New Global “State of the Market” study details when businesses expect to resume corporate travel.
While corporate travel businesses operate by a different set of metrics for what counts as healthy margins than do the leisure travel segment, their glide path is usually similar to the general ups and downs of tour operator and leisure travel agent performance. If so, the principal findings of the recently released “State of the Market” survey by global TMC, FCM Travel Solutions, and sister SME-specialist business travel provider Corporate Traveller are encouraging. (FCM Travel Solutions is the corporate travel business of the Flight Centre Travel Group.)
In essence the study tells us that the majority of organizations will take a phased approach to resuming domestic and international business travel over the next 12 months according to the first phase of a combined of the survey.
A total of 1,600 business travel managers, bookers and travelers at FCM and Corporate traveler clients in the Americas, EMEA, Asia, India, Australia and New Zealand took part in the survey in order to give both TMC divisions greater insight into their clients’ prevailing sentiments on business travel conditions as countries emerge from the COVID-19-driven global pandemic.
Clients taking part in the study, which was conducted by FCM’s consulting arm 4th Dimension (4D) spanned national businesses spending around $100,000 per annum with Corporate Traveler, to large multi-national customers managed by FCM with annual travel spends of over $100 million. Following are some of the survey’s findings:
—Seventy percent of participants agreed or strongly agreed that they expected to increase business travel gradually over a period time with a consensus peaking in business travel returning domestically in one to three months (40 percent of respondents) and internationally in six to twelve months (32 percent of respondents).
—The easing or complete lift of border restrictions ranked as the primary trigger for resuming business travel (70 percent said this would have significant impact) closely followed by organizational endorsement that it is safe to travel (68 percent of respondents indicated that traveler safety will have a significant impact and must be reflected in travel policy). However only half of respondents believe that their business travel volumes will eventually reach pre-coronavirus levels.
—Business travel recovery will be led by Asia and EMEA, according to survey participants in those regions. In Asia, 50 percent of respondents have already begun booking domestic travel and 37 percent expect to resume international travel in three to six months. In EMEA, 37 percent of survey participants expect to travel domestically within one to three months, and 32 percent anticipate starting to book international trips within three to six months. This is due to faster opening of borders intra region and easer movement geographically compared to the rest of the world.
—The highest level of uncertainty around when domestic and international business travel will resume significantly was in the Americas with 28 percent of respondents saying that they did not know when travel would return.
—Winning new business (43 percent of respondents) and managing existing client relationships (39 percent of respondents) are the two dominant business activities motivating organizations to a return to travel.
—While a large portion of respondents indicated a need to revamp travel policy post Covid-19, 28 percent of respondents were unsure what needed to change. Of those that did indicate areas for travel policy change, “health and hygiene” and “duty of care” considerations were the two dominant categories.
—Asked whether changes implemented during Covid-19 will reduce their need for business travel, there was a 50/50 split between participants agreeing or disagreeing
There was no distinct differentiation in these findings when comparing FCM responses with those from Corporate Traveller clients.