As 2022 marches on and the travel industry continues to recover from the impacts of COVID-19, business travel seems to be slowly trending upwards. Employees are increasingly willing and ready to travel for work again, to meet face-to-face with colleagues they have not seen since 2020 or before.
Travel management companies are more optimistic than ever before about the progress the industry is making post-covid, with 86% of TMCs surveyed in April 2021 by GBTA reporting feeling hopefully about what is to come and 82% of respondents willing to travel again for business. In the same survey, 88% of travel suppliers reported their bookings increasing week over week. Around the time of the April 21 survey, a number of U.S. airlines also dropped their long-standing mask mandates which is likely to contribute to even further optimism in the next GBTA survey. Read on for more insights from the most recent GBTA survey.
Business travel restrictions
Most respondents reported their company allows non-essential business travel, with 94% of respondent companies allowing domestic travel and 90% allowing international business travel. There is a new uptick in “return to base” travel, where remote workers are called to their company office or headquarters, according to Forbes.
ROI of business travel
While 39% of respondents reported fewer business trips overall due to the pandemic, 37% said there are more objectives and goals tied to each trip, and 24% said there is more red tape required to get travel approved. One segment of business travel that is already relatively advanced in tracking this ROI is meetings and events, which have traditionally represented roughly one-third of business travel.
Mandate or guideline confusion
Even experienced business travelers report feeling conflicted or confused about travel restrictions or frequently changing guidelines. Sixty-three percent of respondents reported confusion about travel documentation or restrictions, while 45% reported feeling more anxious about business travel.
Interestingly, across all polled expense categories such as per diems, airfare, hotels or car rentals, respondents reported no spending increase to account for inflation. One executive told the Wall Street Journal he forecasted a 30% increase in his corporate travel budget for 2022, not because of an increase in the number of trips but because of increases in trip costs due to variables like fuel cost and pent-up demand for hotel rooms.
While these factors and many others continue to impact business travel recovery, forecasts are optimistic and week-over-week numbers show progress. To review the GBTA survey’s most recent results, view additional respondent demographics and compare results to previous survey, visit the GBTA Member Polls page. To browse additional insights, subscribe to the Skift Travel Health Index, a real-time measure of travel industry performance in 22 countries. Onyx CenterSource is a data contributor to the Index, which includes insights across aviation, hotels, vacation and car rentals and is published monthly.
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