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The Return of Business Travel Will Not Be a Smooth Road

In a GBTA webinar, a noted futurist predicts “the downturn has been uneven and the recovery will be as well.”

In the first of a series of webinars from the Global Business Travel Association, futurist and trendcaster Dr. Shawn DuBravac predicted that the global travel industry’s path to pandemic recovery can best be characterized as uneven, “as some segments of the economy recover more quickly than others.”

According to DuBravac, “What has been the quickest and steepest recession in US history might also prove to be the shortest recession in history. The downturn has been ‘uneven’ and the recovery will be as well.”

DuBravac joined Dave Hilfman, GBTA interim executive director, in the first of the GBTA Collaboratory 2020 series to offer insights into the current state of travel and what the post-pandemic recovery may look like for airlines, hospitality and ground travel.

Research is showing that the recovery of business travel is likely to be a critical component in any broader global economic recovery.

However the current crisis has exerted unique pressures on the industry and the rate of recovery will depend on changes in the landscape of the pandemic, according to DuBravac. “Key drivers of recovery will include the release and dissemination of a COVID-19 vaccine and a steady decline in the rate of positive cases, both of which will breathe confidence into businesses and consumers.”

Beyond containing the coronavirus, the uneven nature of the recovery means travelers will return in an equally uneven fashion. However they will be bringing with them pandemic-influenced preferences – some of which are still unclear, but which will be with us for a long time to come.

That will make innovation and creativity the key factors for successful travel providers in a post-pandemic setting. “Businesses that have paid attention to the shifting needs of travelers during this pandemic, and those that capitalize on emerging opportunities to offer new and innovative solutions will be the businesses that not only survive the downturn, but thrive in the recovery,” said DuBravac.