What the new world of business travel looks like - key stats and facts

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Buckle up for the new world of business travel

The global rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine is top of mind for businesses looking to resume travel. With the global program to roll out the Covid-19 vaccination well underway, businesses are starting to think about travel again. Looking ahead however, business travel in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic, won’t be as straightforward as it used to be. Nor as carefree. New protocols and precautions implemented at every stage of the travel journey are expected to re-shape the business travel experience.

From tighter scrutiny of the destinations employees are visiting, mandatory pre-travel and post-travel health screenings, vaccination passports, regulatory wearing of personal protective equipment to new passenger processes at airports, on aircraft, in hotels and back home … the new world of business travel for companies prioritizing the health and safety of staff, will be highly controlled and regulated. 

Key to the global business travel recovery for the remainder of 2021 and beyond is the progress and efficacy of the global rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine. While business travel spending is expected to rise 21% this year globally, it’s anticipated the industry will not return to its pre-pandemic levels until the middle of the decade (Global Business Travel Association, BTI Outlook).

Despite the cloud of uncertainty surrounding the future of both domestic and international travel, buyers and suppliers are being cautiously optimistic.

 

In a member poll conducted by the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) in March 2021, 28% of respondents were planning on resuming domestic business travel between April and June 2021. A further 33% of the 680 companies surveyed, were expecting their non-essential domestic travel to resume by Q3 (Jul-Sep) and 27% by Q4 (Oct-Dec) this year. Meanwhile 42% of participants flagged that non-essential international business travel would have resumed by Q4, 2021.

Results from GBTA’s coronavirus poll March 18, 2021, revealed that 85% of its members would be ‘very comfortable’ or ‘comfortable’ traveling for work after receiving the Covid-19 vaccination. The introduction of digital health verification via a ‘vaccination passport’ that indicates the traveler has been inoculated against the coronavirus, also received the thumbs up from 66% of respondents. GBTA’s coronavirus poll from February this year highlighted that almost half of the survey’s participants said they supported mandatory testing of employees prior to travel to protect the health and safety of other passengers. Additionally, 59% of GBTA members said the availability of the vaccine was a ‘significant’ factor in their company’s decision to return to business travel, while 23% said it was a ‘moderate’ factor (GBTA poll Dec 2020). With the vaccine top of mind for businesses and their employees, it’s highly likely that Covid-19 testing and personal health screenings could become part of organizational travel policies.

As more companies return to the skies this year, travel management companies (TMC) will play a key role in helping customers modify and update company travel policies to accommodate the new normal. Expect a clamp down on any bookings made through non-compliant channels.

Businesses will be keeping a close eye on booking behavior to ensure traveling employees are booking through the right channels. The aim? To keep road warriors highly visible, easily trackable and on the receiving end of all company and TMC issued travel alerts and updates. Ensuring travelers are well prepared and informed of new travel policies before they hit the road will be a key responsibility for in-house travel managers and their TMCs.

The path towards a Covid-safe future for travel will also see an even bigger reliance on technology, artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual technologies. From booking travel through to the on-road experience and back home, automation and AI are set to take center stage as companies look to create process efficiencies internally and TMCs make the travel and customer experience as seamless as possible. Global consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) claims 86% of executives say AI will be a ‘mainstream technology’ within their businesses this year while a further 67% of US-based companies agree that adopting AI technology has helped them to create better customer experiences.

Business and travelers are advised to utilize their TMCs as a trusted source of guidance and information for everything from real time travel alerts, to meeting duty of care obligations, travel risk management planning and implementing strategies and technology to support safe and efficient travel in the new normal. 

With an added layer of complexity over the travel landscape it is critical for customers to be leaning on the industry experts. Important now, is your single point of contact and having dedicated travel support from a provider like Corporate Traveler that can help your business adapt and remain agile in this new normal.

If you’re ready to hit the road again and want your business and travelers to be as prepared as possible – talk to the team at Corporate Traveler. Our focus is on providing customers with the right blend of personal support from your dedicated Travel Manager, who is backed by integrated technology. Our team will help to get you back traveling – safely and seamlessly. 

To find out how, talk to us today about our exclusive new travel platform coming in Fall 2021 by requesting a demo.

Sources:

- GBTA’s March 2021 instalment of its coronavirus global member poll

- GBTA’s February 2021 instalment of its coronavirus global member poll

- GBTA BTI Outlook 2020, released in February 2021

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