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Optimism Grows for Business Travel, GBTA Survey Says

New survey shows greater optimism for business travel, a big trade group says, with health and safety standards key.

Higher levels of optimism in the business travel sector have started to appear, according to new research issued yesterday by the Global Business Travel Association. Domestic and essential business travel will likely resume first, especially with industry standardized health and safety standards.

Based in Washington, GBTA is a business travel and meetings trade organization with operations on six continents. Its 9,000-plus members manage more than $345 billion of global business travel and meetings expenditures annually.

“For the first time since the start of the pandemic, supplier members are starting to see some uplift in bookings,” said GBTA CEO Scott Solombrino. “This positive trend is supported by the slight increase in member companies looking to restart travel in the short term—one to three months. To continue this trend, there is strong support from GBTA member companies who want consistent health and safety measures for every travel vertical.”

To further develop understanding of the effects of the coronavirus’s on business travel, GBTA conducted its eighth poll among membership from June 9-14. GBTA received responses from 1,708 member companies throughout the world. View the entire poll results here.

COMING BACK SLOWLY While business travel continues to stall, there are some signs companies are slowly resuming some business travel. The poll reveals half (49 percent) of companies plan to resume domestic travel in the near future (one to three months) and one in five (22 percent) plan to resume all travel in the next one to three months as well. Finally, the poll reveals a small uptick in the number of companies allowing some essential travel (44 percent compared with 37 percent in the previous GBTA poll released on May 20).

Small indications of recovery are also evident among suppliers, with more travel suppliers and travel management companies report seeing an increase in bookings. In fact, almost half (46 percent) of travel suppliers and TMCs report seeing an increase in their bookings in the past week, while one in four (40 percent) say their bookings have remained the same.

SUPPLIER MOOD BRIGHTENS Supplier optimism regarding the industry’s path to recovery is also showing positive signs. Four in ten (40 percent) say they feel more optimistic than they were last week (compared to 28 percent who felt the same in the previous GBTA coronavirus poll). Half (50 percent) feel the same as they did last week, and only one in ten (10 percent) feel more pessimistic about the industry’s path to recovery than they felt a week ago. 

Guidelines and standards are critically important across all verticals pertaining to the business travel industry. GBTA member companies overwhelmingly feel industry-wide COVID-19 guidelines or standards are very important or important. Almost all companies feel COVID-19 guidelines/standards are important for the airline (96 percent), hotel (96 percent), rental car (93 percent), ride sharing (93 percent), taxi (92 percent), chauffeured car (91 percent), meeting and event (91 percent) industries.

WORST IS OVER? When asked about the impact of COVID-19 on the industry, most companies feel the business travel industry has experienced the worst in terms of canceled flights (86 percent), hotel operations suspension (78 percent), layoffs/furloughs (52 percent) and revenue impact (47 percent). However, one in three believe the worst is yet to come in terms of layoffs/furloughs (31 percent) and revenue loss (34 percent). 


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