Business Travel May Never Return to Pre-Pandemic Levels

Business travellers are reluctant to get back in the sky.

© Shutterstock


Business travellers are reluctant to get back in the sky.

© Shutterstock

The Morning Consult quarterly report, The State of Travel and Hospitality, is based on a survey of more than 9,000 adults across the Americas, Europe and the Asia-Pacific, gauging their thoughts amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

Business travel has lagged behind leisure during the pandemic recovery, and the report found strong signs that it may never return to pre-2020 volumes. "This is particularly concerning in Western Europe, where more than half of French business travellers plan to stay off the road indefinitely," it said.

France had the highest percentage of business travellers vowing to stay put in the future, at 62%, followed by Germany on 48%, Japan on 45%, UK on 44% and Canada and the US both coming in with 39% pledging to shun business trips indefinitely.

For those who are planning business trips, one in five over the next year will be day trips. 

Travellers seek flexibility

"Not only will many pre-pandemic business travellers not return to the road, but those that do are facing a very different reality. More than a year of lower travel budgets and adoption (albeit forced in some cases) of virtual work platforms means that executives will no longer see the value in the broad range of business travel occasions that existed pre-pandemic," Morning Consult said.

Holidaymakers meanwhile are focused on the possibility of their plans changing at any time due to Covid so shorter booking windows, a priority on flexibility and even willingness to pay more for reschedulable bookings look set to stay for the foreseeable future.

What it described as the "polarisation" of US society was also influencing the travel sector. More than 40% of Americans said they travelled less domestically during the pandemic due to concerns about other peoples’ behaviour and more than 60% are at least slightly concerned about an 'air rage' incident on their next flight.

The poll was conducted from 22-25 October 2021, among 9,200 adults in the US, Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, South Korea and the UK, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3%.