The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) has released the findings from its latest poll measuring the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on business travel.
The results of GBTA’s 19th poll show increasing optimism, an increase in bookings and growing momentum for a return to business travel among GBTA’s buyer and procurement members. The positive trend is largely due to the success of the vaccine roll-out and the introduction of vaccine passports.
“It’s reassuring to see so much momentum for a return to business travel, with more optimism, willingness to travel and an increase in bookings,” said Suzanne Neufang, CEO, GBTA, in a press release statement. “Government policies remain the greatest obstacle to opening travel, particularly in the UK, Europe and Canada. Our advocacy teams continue to lobby on behalf of members, in London, Brussels, Ottawa, Washington and around the world for the responsive and safe re-opening of international travel.”
The survey revealed that 78 percent of GBTA buyer and procurement respondents felt that their employees were ‘willing’ or ‘very willing’ to travel for business in the current environment. Of the remaining respondents, 10 percent felt their employees were ‘not willing’, 11 percent were ‘neutral’ and 6 percent were ‘unsure’.
The survey also showed that 78 percent of GBTA member and stakeholder respondents believed that government-issued digital health verification (such as digital green certificates and/or vaccination passports) were either ‘very effective’ or ‘effective’ in terms of resuming business travel. Respondents from Europe, the UK, and Canada were more likely than respondents from the U.S. to say issuing digital health verification or vaccination passports was effective in terms of resuming business travel.
More than half of respondents (55 percent) cited that the single greatest barrier to business travel in the current environment was government policies that restrict travel or make it difficult (such as entry restrictions and mandatory quarantines). Next was company policies restricting employees from traveling, cited by 23 percent of respondents; travel budget freeze/cost savings, cited by 11 percent; and employee unwillingness to travel, cited by 7 percent of respondents.
Optimism for the financial prospects of companies in the business travel sector showed a positive trajectory, with 50 percent of suppliers and travel management company respondents stating they were ‘very optimistic’ (3 percent) or ‘optimistic’ (47 percent) about the industry’s projected recovery.
Among those respondents who stated their employees were ‘unwilling’, ‘unsure’ or ‘neutral’ about traveling for business in the current environment, the primary reasons for their hesitancy were given as safety concerns (79 percent) and the lack of vaccinations (74 percent).
The survey also revealed that 54 percent of supplier respondents have reported an increase in bookings from corporate customers within the past week, compared to just 40 percent in GBTA’s April poll. Two in five, or 36 percent, reported that their bookings had increased from the previous week, and only 10 percent reported that their bookings had decreased.
Of those GBTA member company respondents who reported canceling or suspending most or all trips to a specific region/country, the survey revealed that 81 percent were considering resuming travel in the near future, or were considering resuming travel but did not have definite plans.
The survey also revealed that ‘Bleisure’ or ‘Workcations’ were less of a priority in the current climate, with only 19 percent stating they were ‘much more likely’ or ‘more likely’ to combine leisure travel in combination with business travel.
GBTA conducted a poll of its members across the globe from May. 10-15, 2021. A total of 529 responses were received.
The BBTA member poll results and key highlights can be viewed here.