GBTA poll shows global business travel is at a halt

A new poll by the Global Business Travel Association shows that travelers are eager to get back on the road. Photo credit: Shutterstock/luchnuyu

According to a poll conducted by the Global Business Travel Association, business travel has become the latest casualty of the coronavirus pandemic by coming to a halt across the globe.

To understand the coronavirus’s effects on business travel, GBTA conducted its fifth lightning poll among membership on April 1-4. The GBTA received responses from almost 1,000 member companies throughout the world. 

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“With the spread of the coronavirus and many countries under quarantine and other restrictions, it is not surprising that business travel has come to a halt. The toll in terms of public health and the global economy cannot be overstated,” said Scott Solombrino, the GBTA’s COO/executive director. “We applaud government actions and financial assistance to help address the global crisis and stabilize global economies. The survey shows that travelers are eager to get back on the road, which is a positive sign for future business travel. Once this pandemic is successfully combatted, business travel can return to being a positive economic driver of the global economy.”

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One major finding of the poll is that business travel has come to a halt across the globe. Companies are canceling or suspending almost all business travel regardless of country or region. GBTA members report their companies have canceled or suspended “all” or “most” business trips to:

  • China - 99 percent canceled or suspended
  • Hong Kong - 99 percent canceled or suspended
  • Taiwan – 98 percent canceled or suspended
  • Other Asia-Pacific countries (e.g., Japan, South Korea and Malaysia) - 98 percent canceled or suspended
  • Europe – 97 percent canceled or suspended
  • Middle East/Africa – 98 percent canceled or suspended
  • Latin America – 97 percent canceled or suspended
  • Canada – 95 percent canceled or suspended
  • United States – 94 percent canceled or suspended

Other key findings of the poll: 

  • Almost every GBTA member company (98 percent) reports canceling and/or suspending all international business travel. In addition, most (92 percent) report they have canceled or suspended all or most domestic travel.
  • Most GBTA members based in the United States (93 percent) and Europe (92 percent) report their company has canceled or suspended all or most domestic business travel.
  • On average, GBTA travel buyers estimate their company has canceled 92 percent of business trips booked for March and April 2020. 
  • GBTA members vary in terms of when they expect business travel to resume. Slightly more than half expect travel to resume within the next two (32 percent) or three (19 percent) months, while 16 percent are unsure. 
  • Almost every travel company (96 percent) characterizes the financial impact of the Covid-19 pandemic as significant. Two-thirds of GBTA members who work for suppliers and/or travel management companies report their company has laid off (69 percent), furloughed (66 percent) and cut staff salaries (66 percent) as a result of the pandemic. On average, suppliers and TMCs who have laid off or furloughed employees estimate that nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of the employees at their companies have been affected by these actions. 
  • When asked to assess employee willingness to travel once restrictions are lifted, the majority of GBTA member companies expect most (33 percent) or some (33 percent) employees will be willing to travel. A much smaller proportion anticipates unwillingness on the part of some (13 percent) or most (2 percent) employees to travel. 
  • The coronavirus has led many companies to host virtual meetings. The vast majority of GBTA member companies report they use virtual meetings frequently (83 percent) or occasionally (11 percent) due to physical distancing concerns. 
  • GBTA member companies continue to restrict business travel. More than half (55 percent) report they have canceled or suspended all business travel. Another 41 percent report their company has canceled or suspended all non-essential trips but allows some essential travel. 
  • GBTA member companies work to help protect employees from coronavirus including instituting work from home policies (86 percent), providing updated health and safety information (76 percent), and developing contingency plans to get work done such as teleconferences and video meetings (74 percent). In addition, some GBTA member companies report they have limited the number of people who work in the office (49 percent) and/or closed the office entirely (42 percent). Other actions include temporarily closing all but essential departments (34 percent) and moving some employees to new locations (13 percent). 
  • A majority of GBTA members (62 percent) expect the coronavirus will change the way their company conducts business once the threat is over.

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