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Survey Finds Optimism About Corporate Travel Recovery

Even as coronavirus keeps business travel grounded, signs of optimism emerge in new GBTA study

Business travel continues to be in lockdown mode, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic. But a new survey of corporate travel managers is painting a more optimistic picture for the industry’s future, as most say they are planning a recovery for 2020 with one in three planning for a recovery in three months or less.

According to the new research from the Global Business Travel Association of nearly 1,600 of its member companies, over one-third (35 percent) of respondents say they plan for their company’s post-coronavirus recovery plan in three months or less, while a quarter (27 percent) say they plan for a post-recovery in 6-8 months. Only one in ten are planning for recovery in 2021; however, one in four (28 percent) report they do not know.

The majority of companies surveyed (57 percent) report they have suspended or canceled all business travel across the board. However, six in ten (62 percent) say they expect domestic travel to resume in the next 2-3 months, while one in five report they expect domestic travel to resume in the next 6-8 months (18 percent) or are unsure (19 percent).

The majority of respondents (88 percent) expect employees will be willing to travel once restrictions are lifted, with more North American companies (90 percent) saying their travelers are more likely than members from Europe (83 percent) to be willing to get back on the road.

Corporations say they will be looking at several different factors as they make decisions about loosening travel restrictions, including: a decline in new infection rates (92 percent), governments lifting travel restrictions or advisories (91 percent), guidelines or statements from public health agencies such as the WHO or CDC (90 percent), effective anti-viral treatments (89 percent), removing stay-at-home lockdowns (88 percent), a new coronavirus vaccine developed and available to employees (85 percent), advice from a risk management firm/consultant (60 percent), and whether other companies are allowing travel (49 percent).

The results mirror similar sentiment found in surveys taken among leisure travelers which report nearly three-quarters of Americans (72 percent) are already planning their next vacations, despite pandemic-related lockdowns.