Skift Take

Considering the widespread travels bans in place, Global Business Travel Association members are either overly confident about when normality will resume, or underestimate the seriousness of the situation.

About 40 percent of companies predicted corporate travel will resume within the next three months, according to a new lighting poll conducted by the Global Business Travel Association. About 17 percent said six months was more realistic.

However, four in 10 (40 percent) say they are unsure when travel will resume.

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The realities of present day are somber. Ninety-six percent of companies reveal they have canceled or suspended all or most international business travel, Four in five (82 percent) have canceled or suspended all or most domestic business trips.Since the coronavirus outbreak, the travel group has regularly been polling its member companies to gain snapshots of the various impacts of coronavirus, in part to aid its lobbying measures.

The results from its fourth “lightning” poll reflect just how much corporate travel has come to a standstill across the globe.

The association surveyed members from March 18-21, with 1,155 companies submitting responses.

Four in 10 (41 percent) report their company has canceled or suspended all business travel, while half (53 percent) report their company has canceled or suspended all non-essential trips, but allow some essential travel.

When asked to estimate the percentage of business travel previously booked for March 2020 that has been canceled, business travel association members estimate 89 percent of business trips have been canceled. This is double the estimate from its March 10 poll when members estimated 43 percent of March 2020 travel was canceled.

When it comes to meetings and events, almost all association’s member companies said they have canceled (95 percent) and/or postponed (92 percent) meetings, conferences or events due to the coronavirus. What’s surprising, however, is nearly a third (31 percent) decided to relocate meetings or events to other locations.

Taking action

The association members were also quizzed over the measures they were taking to protect employees. Some 85 percent have set up work from home policies; 70 percent are developing contingency plans to get work done, such as increase teleconferences and video meeting; and 79 percent are providing updated health and safety information to employees.

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Other actions being taken include limiting the number of people who work in the office (59%); temporarily closing all but essential departments (26 percent); closure of office entirely (25%); and moving some employees to new locations (11 percent).

Looking ahead

The association also asked when organizations expect business travel to resume.

Seven in ten companies (73 percent) also described the impact as “significant”, and one in five (19 percent) characterize the financial impact as “moderate.”

The association supplier members feel the financial impact more strongly, with nine in 10 (94 percent) describing the financial impact of the coronavirus as being “significant” to their company’s revenue.

Association members also continue to alter their travel policies. Seven in 10 (70 percent) report their company has instituted new policies pertaining to travel approval – an increase of 15 percentage points since the March 10 poll.

In addition, companies continue to modify travel safety and security policies with seven in 10 (70 percent) reporting their company has modified traveler safety policies — an increase of eight percentage points from the last poll.

The association also asked whether the outbreak will change the way their company conducts business once there is no more threat from the disease, with 54% replying yes, 23 percent stating no 22 percent saying they were unsure.

These latest results come as the business travel association calls on Congress to pass responsible measures to support the travel industry.

“The coronavirus is having a devastating effect on the global business travel industry the likes of which we have never seen,” said association’s chief operating officer and executive director Scott Solombrinor.

“We urge Congress to come together and pass a financial package that will help the
industry survive in these unprecedented times,” he said. “The business travel industry is directly or indirectly responsible for seven in ten jobs throughout the world. It is imperative that Congress pass a responsible bill as soon as possible to save the industry before its fate is sealed.”


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Tags: congress, gbta, travel policy

Photo credit: Empty airports like this one at a Lufthansa counter are the new reality, as companies join in travel bans. Michael Probst / Skift

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