Just half of companies located in North America are seeing international bookings recover to their pre-pandemic levels, according to a new poll.
This latest data from the Global Business Travel Association delivers a dose of reality for the travel industry. Most travel agencies are predicting an eventual 70 percent recovery.
The picture is a little better in Europe, where six in 10 companies report a return to 2019 booking levels. Asia Pacific and Latin America are ahead with 65 percent and 77 percent respectively.
The survey polled 217 travel manager members, and they tend to represent bigger corporations. In some ways the association’s State of Global Business Travel report, published Tuesday, backs up reports that it’s the smaller enterprises driving the recovery (explaining why the world’s biggest corporate travel agency, American Express Global Business Travel, has restructured to hone in further on the segment.)
The report also follows bullish airline outlooks, including Delta Air Lines which said corporate travel business was now flatlining at around 80 percent of 2019 levels. There’s a clear discrepancy with the association poll here, but again this could be linked to smaller firms that do not have a managed corporate travel program that are among the carrier’s top international bookers.
However, Southwest Airlines said its managed corporate travel was expected to hit 2019 levels by March. That full recovery is still far off association’s poll results for domestic U.S travel: it found 69 percent of corporations had recovered to pre-pandemic domestic booking numbers, leading both Europe and Asia Pacific by three percentage points. Again this suggests it’s perhaps those smaller companies racing ahead to meet clients face-to-face or attend conferences.
The Global Business Travel Association poll was conducted between Jan. 16 and Jan. 23.