Despite continuing to report an overall willingness and optimism for the return to business travel, business travel industry sentiment continues to waver, due to ongoing uncertainty around the Delta variant and other variants, according to the latest poll from US based Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), the 23rd in a series tracking the pulse of the business travel industry and the return to travel, post pandemic.
Some highlights from the September GBTA poll:
• International business travel remains stalled, domestic stays consistent, and the Delta variant continues to delay the return to non-essential domestic and international business travel.
• Consistent across the past three months, employees are “willing” or “very willing” to travel for business in the current environment (68%).
• One in five (22%) respondents report they feel more optimistic compared to a month ago, versus 15% in the August poll.
• Six in 10 travel (66%) report due to the pandemic, their roles as buyers and procurement professionals at companies has changed “slightly” to “a lot.”
• Among travel buyers and procurement professionals, many report they spend “more” or “much more” time than before the pandemic collaborating with other company stakeholders, particularly Security/Risk Management (66%), Human Resources (51%) and Senior Management/C-suite (46%).
• Even with business travel down from years prior due to COVID-19, more than one-third (37%) of travel buyers and procurement professionals say they are “more” or “much more” reliant now on their travel management company (TMC) than they were before the pandemic.
“It’s not a surprise that for a second consecutive month, travel industry buyers and suppliers continue to report ongoing caution around variants and travel restrictions as key factors impacting what would otherwise be a more accelerated return to business travel,“ said Suzanne Neufang, CEO, GBTA. „The recent news regarding the opening up of the US to UK and EU business travelers will hopefully alleviate some of the concerns and give a needed boost to the business travel ecosystem through year-end. Additionally, we’re seeing early signs of new ways of thinking coming to corporate travel programs including the importance of closer collaboration with corporate travel managers and travel management companies,” Suzanne Neufang added.