STUDY: Business travel to return in phases over next 12 months

Corporate travellers expect both domestic and international business travel to resume via a phased approach over the next year, according to new research by Flight Centre Travel Group (FCTG).

The study found that almost half (49 per cent) of people involved with business travel had either already started to travel or felt they would again within 30 days or one to thrree months.

However, only half of the respondents believe that their business travel volumes will reach pre-coronavirus levels in the near term.

4th Dimension Business Consulting (4D),  the consultancy arm of FCTG, surveyed about 1,600 business travel managers, bookers and travellers as part of the first phase of a multinational State of the Market study.

The easing or complete lift of border restrictions ranked as the primary trigger for resuming business travel (70 per cent said this would have a significant impact), closely followed by organisational endorsement that it is safe to travel (68 per cent of respondents indicated traveller safety will have a significant impact and must be reflected in travel policy).

Business travel recovery will be led by Asia and Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), according to the survey, with 50 per cent of respondents in Asia having already begun booking domestic travel, and 37 per cent expect to resume international travel in three to six months.

In EMEA, 37 per cent of survey participants expect to travel domestically within one to three months, and 32 per cent anticipate starting to book international trips within three to six months.

The highest level of uncertainty around when domestic and international business travel will resume significantly was in the Americas, with 28 per cent of respondents saying that they did not know when travel would return.

FCTG’s managing director for Australia, James Kavanagh, said: “The business travel landscape and the needs of our customers have changed beyond all recognition over the last few months, and business travel conditions will continue to evolve and shift as everyone comes out the other side of the global pandemic.

“It’s vital that we understand if and how our clients in each market and industry sectors will start to travel again, and their primary concerns and objectives when they do so.

“The first phase of our State of the Market survey has given us valuable insight into this process and how we can provide the best level of support.

“However, the whole post-COVID- 19 era is still full of uncertainties, and everyone is living and working in an environment that will continue to change.

“This State of the Market study is, therefore, an ongoing research project including customer polls in phase one and two, which will be followed by further in-depth customer interviews and focus groups over the next two months.”

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