Vaccine the game changer for business travel

ALEXANDRIA, USA, 22 February 2021: The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), the world’s largest business travel association, discovered most GBTA members and stakeholders (79%) would be “very comfortable” or “comfortable” travelling for business after receiving the Covid-19 vaccination.

Almost half of the participants of a GBTA survey said they supported mandatory testing prior to travel to ensure the safety of customers and clients when meeting face-to-face.

The latest findings come from the 16th instalment of the coronavirus poll, conducted by GBTA since the onset of the pandemic to measure its impact on business travel since March 2020.

Key Findings

Respondents see an increase in employee willingness to travel. More than half (55%) of GBTA buyer and procurement members feel their employees are ‘willing’ or ‘very willing’ to travel for business in the current environment, up from 49% in the January poll. Just 17% of the buyer and/or procurement members feel their employees are unwilling to travel for business at the present time.

The majority of respondents (79%) say they would be “very comfortable” or “comfortable” travelling for business after receiving the Covid-19 vaccination. Another one in 10 (14%) were neutral or would be uncomfortable travelling for business (7%).

Almost half (49%) of GBTA member and stakeholder respondents agreed with the policy” to mandate Covid-19 testing for employees before they could travel for work.

GBTA respondents from Europe were more likely (58%) than respondents from North America (44%) to say mandated testing was a ”good policy.” Less than one in five considered it a “bad policy” (15%) or were unsure (16%).

Among those who thought mandated testing prior to business travel was a “good policy,” most felt it was because customers and clients would feel safe having face-to-face meetings (69%), and it would help resume business travel (64%).

European respondents (67%) were more likely to feel mandated testing would help monitor employee safety and wellness than respondents based in North America (53%). In addition, more European respondents said mandated testing would help resume business travel (77%) than respondents based in North America (60%).

A majority of GBTA members and stakeholders (58%) support airlines requiring passengers provide proof of vaccination in order to fly (once vaccines become more readily available), whereas one-quarter (28%) do not and 15% are unsure. European respondents (65%) are more likely than those in North America (54%) to support proof of vaccination to fly.

Border closures and restrictions have significantly impacted business travel. Two-thirds (68%) of GBTA members and stakeholders report border closures and restrictions have reduced business travel at their company, and over half (56%) say the restrictions and closures have increased confusion and uncertainties about when business travel can resume.

In addition, four in 10 (43%) said border closures and restrictions had impacted their company recovery efforts in 2021. Another one in ten (10%) report border closures and restrictions have restricted imports/exports of goods and services needed by their company and have employees stuck in a country/region unable to return home (8%). Only one in 10 said border closures and/or restrictions had not impacted their company.

Respondents in Europe (67%) are more likely than those in North America (51%) to say border closures and restrictions have increased confusion and uncertainties about when business travel can resume.

Most GBTA member companies have not opened international (89%) or domestic (64%) travel as companies continue to cancel and/or suspend almost all business travel regardless of destination.  In fact, a strong majority of GBTA member companies (76%) continue to report they have suspended or cancelled all business travel regardless of location.

“As vaccination programs ramp up globally, traveller and corporate confidence are starting to return,” said GBTA interim executive director Dave Hilfman. “It is reassuring to hear so much discussion around business travel resuming and a change in sentiment from 16% to 25% of GBTA members and stakeholders who have resumed some domestic business travel in the last month.”

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