Increasing Optimism for Growth of Business Travel
With COVID-19 vaccinations being rolled out, optimism is growing for increased levels of business travel. Now is the time for Travel Managers to make final preparations for their company’s return to travel.
After the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic in March 2020, corporate travel programs have been through unprecedented changes. The initial focus for Travel Managers was on locating and repatriating travelers, securing supplier refunds and credits. In the months that followed, many Travel Managers updated travel policies and put in place new approval processes that would allow a thoughtful, controlled restart of travel.
The pandemic triggered an immediate pause in travel. IATA data shows that global airline passenger demand crashed to -98% year over year in April 2020. Since then, global domestic travel demand has steadily grown to -43% year over year (in December 2020), while international travel demand remains well down at -85%.
Now, COVID-19 vaccinations and testing look set to trigger stronger growth of business travel. In a February 2021 poll, 79% of GBTA members stated they would be “very comfortable” or “comfortable” traveling after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. The poll also suggests that business traveler sentiment is improving, with 55% saying employees are “willing” or “very willing” to travel for business, up from 49% in January.
With improving sentiment about business travel, it’s clear that Travel Managers should now put the final pieces in place to ensure their program is ready for the effective return to travel in the months ahead.
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