I recently spoke with a journalist for a Bloomberg article who asked the question: “What will a strong recovery for business travel look like and when will it happen?” After some discussion, we pretty much landed on: “It depends how you’re measuring recovery and also whom you ask.”
The question came on the heels of the Biden Administration’s loosening of restrictions for international travel to the U.S. This was welcome news across our industry, in the U.S and globally. But we also know business travel doesn’t start back up on a dime. And recovery will continue to happen incrementally.
Sectors across the travel industry have all shared unique challenges with us: Leisure travel is working out the COVID-related rustiness in the ecosystem and travelers themselves, but business travel has so many more variables on the road to recovery. Among them: business traveler confidence and ongoing public health concerns, company travel policies and budgets, new cross-border requirements, operational and supply chain stabilization, and even office re-openings.
More recalibration, restarts, new approaches and dynamic changes are still ahead. And changing times call for new approaches. In our September COVID-19 recovery poll, six in ten travel buyers and procurement professionals reported that, due to the pandemic, their roles have changed “slightly” to “a lot.” This includes collaborating more closely with other departments (71%) such as Human Resources, Finance, Legal, and Risk Management; elevating duty of care as a higher priority in the company (70%); and developing new approaches or revisions to current corporate travel guidelines (69%). This is just one indicator of industry transformation and getting ready for what’s next for business travel.
So what would I say would define a strong recovery? It would be great for the industry to see a 20-25% YOY increase by end of first quarter 2022. There’s a lot that can happen between now and then. But I am encouraged by the strides most regions are making in COVID-19 risk mitigation success and vaccination rates – which ultimately sets the foundation for getting back to travel and getting back to business.
News To Know
Confused about the US border’s November rules?
The US border will be reopening to fully vaccinated air travelers come November, but how does this decision affect Canadians specifically? This new system replaces the current restrictions on a broad basis according to physical presence in restricted countries and discusses the CDC view on mixed doses of COVID-10 vaccines.
Chile Will Open to Vaccinated International Travelers on Oct. 1
As of October 1st, Chile has reopened its borders to vaccinated non-resident travelers with their new “Mobility Pass” (Pase de Movibilidad). Travelers can apply with proof of vaccination on the Chilean government’s website. Learn more about the Mobility Pass >>
Virgin Atlantic to Resume Transatlantic Services
In response to the news that the US will be allowing vaccinated travelers from the EU and UK, Virgin Atlantic has begun the process of resuming transatlantic flights. The airline’s Heathrow to San Francisco flight restarted on October 2nd, while daily Orlando and Las Vegas service will resume in November.
United Integrates with Apple Health for Vaccine Verification
United’s Travel Ready Center now joins with Apple health to allow travelers to upload their COVID-19 vaccination records for instant review and approval for travelers United flights.
GBTA News & Reminders
Virtual Special Event
Enjoy the LATAM Regional Panel, free for active members and face-to-face Conference 2022. This one-day Spanish language event will explore different topics including the current state of travel, traveler wellbeing, and different perspectives for the coming year in business travel. Learn More >>
Advanced Principles of Business Travel Management™
Building on the Fundamentals curriculum, the Advanced Principles of Business Travel Management™ course is designed for travel buyers overseeing a managed business travel program and suppliers offering travel-related products and services. Sign up for this virtual education course to learn more about travel policy compliance, risk management, data strategy and more.