Back to Office Means Back to Business Travel – Or Does it?
During my GBTA Convention Main Stage presentation on the “State of the Global Business Travel Industry,” I shared that many of us in our sector have been asking the same question – “Where are we now?” – when it comes to the trajectory of recovery and planning for what’s next.
One of the areas our industry is still trying to assess is how the return of workers to offices aligns to the return to business travel. And vice versa.
A year ago, we saw trending polling data that told us the return to office would be a key enabler for return to business travel. But what we’re seeing now in several large markets is actually different… travel may be coming back faster than people are to offices.
From a GBTA July 2022 survey, more frequent business travelers want to travel (85%) and say they need it to accomplish their goals. This compares to data from a June U.S. poll which indicated approximately 55% of employees are working full-time onsite while the remainder are partially (35%) or fully remote (15%). Although there are several factors that would come into play, this might indicate that more people want to travel for business than want to commute to an office.
Additionally, in a recent discussion I had on business travel and office trends with a major global company, their leaders told me they were seeing a 40% return of employees to their London-based office and only 16-20% in their New York City area-based offices. Others from Fortune 500 companies outside of major cities with whom I spoke while in San Diego two weeks ago said they are essentially 100% back to the office.
So, what does that mean for travel managers and corporate travel policy as the “Future of Work” movement continues to up-end our industry and “standard” processes from pre-COVID? It probably depends on the industry, roles, employee sentiment, and company culture. A one-size approach will not fit all, and ongoing analysis, adaptation, and internal communication and coordination will be key for travel managers as the dynamics of work and travel will likely continue to change. Keeping a seat at the table that you earned in the midst of the pandemic is going to be key as you work out new policies to meet your company’s current trajectory of “recovery.”
In the coming weeks, watch for and make your voice heard as we field our next GBTA Business Travel Recovery Poll where we’ll continue to explore this topic and others in our ongoing benchmarking and assessment of our industry’s evolution. In the meantime, you can check out the all the available GBTA Research and resources on our newly redesigned website.
News to Know:
Germany pushes for ‘pay as you fly’ model
Following the cancellation of thousands of flights this summer, the German state of Lower Saxony, in the country’s north west, has called to abolish advance payment for flight bookings. Instead the state’s transport minister Bernd Althusmann, earlier this month, renewed calls to introduce a ‘pay as you fly’ (PAYF) model, where payment for plane tickets is processed upon check-in. The Federal Ministry for the Environment and Consumer Protection welcomed the initiative, which could be on the agenda at the next Federal Council meeting set for 16 September, according to a report by German business newspaper Handelblatt.
Singapore to end quarantine for unvaccinated visitors
Singapore is to end its requirement for unvaccinated travellers to serve a seven-day quarantine period on arrival in the destination. From Monday (29 August), international visitors to Singapore who are not classified as being fully vaccinated against Covid-19 will no longer have to self-isolate for one week. But unvaccinated travellers will still be required to test negative for the virus within 48 hours of their departure to Singapore. Under current rules, fully vaccinated travellers can enter Singapore without undergoing any Covid tests or having to go into quarantine.
How To Build A Winning Ground Transportation Program During Business Travel Recovery And Economic Uncertainty
For the ground transportation industry, the Covid-19 pandemic was a full stop that punctuated over a decade of disruption in the way we move from A to B. For every before, there is always an after, and I believe now—the summer of 2022—is that after. It’s a period that’s seeing travel managers and employees alike embrace the corporate travel comeback amid inflation (paywall) and recession fears. Nevertheless, there’s no doubt that corporate travel is rapidly recovering, and I expect the numbers to continue to rise in September as employees return to the workplace after the summer.
GBTA News and Reminders:
Designed as a comprehensive guide to the key areas of managed travel, GBTA’s Fundamentals curriculum includes a full range of topics including safety, policy, trends, performance, and more. Participants in this course gain a better understanding of business travel management and make themselves indispensable to the business travel needs of their organization. The program covers 7 modules and includes 4 two-hour live sessions with an instructor. Participants will need to complete a recorded session and prep work prior to each virtual session.