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Covid challenges are top concerns for corporate travel buyers

Concerns about Covid are the most pressing worries for European business travel professionals – while cost-cutting and sustainability have fallen down the list of priorities, according to research.

Business Travel Show Europe surveyd 337 European travel professionals and found that changes to their role, keeping up with Covid legislation, and pandemic uncertainty were the top three concerns.

For the last five years, a pressure to cut costs has featured in first or second place. This year, cost-cutting dropped to 13th position.

Aside from Covid, other worries in the top 10 were airline pricing, Brexit, appointing a new travel management company (TMC), budget and availability.


More: Booking with trusted providers key after uncertainty, Expedia research reveals

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The pressure to be more sustainable – which entered the chart for the first time in 2020 – has dropped to number 11.

Clare Francis – travel supplier category manager at Willis Towers Watson – will attend Business Travel Show Europe as a buyer and a speaker this autumn.

She said business has become “a lot more complicated in the past 18 months” thanks to Brexit and Covid.

“However, since many colleagues haven’t travelled for an extended period of time, many of these new and confusing restrictions are still unknown to them, so education and communication are going to be a big part of our ‘reimagining travel’ strategy,” she said.

“It’s no longer possible to make spur-of-the-moment decisions to hop on a plane and visit an international client, which will come as quite a shock to many who have be used to doing this for years.”

Scott Davies, chief executive of the Institute of Travel Management (ITM), said the complexity of Covid and Brexit red tape mean that the institute has established an EU Travel Taskforce, to support travel buyers as they prepare for increased international travel volumes.

“The complexities of travel buyer roles and responsibilities have pivoted and evolved over the past year in the wake of Covid-19. Additional areas that now fall within buyers’ remits include new reporting requirements (such as CO2), traveller health and lifestyle expectations, and sustainability measures,” he added.

Louis Magliaro, BTN Group executive vice-president, added: “Covid really has turned the world on its head for both European business travellers and buyers who continue to face uncertainty around the pandemic as well as non-pandemic related issues such as Brexit, sustainability and supplier/partner negotiations.”

Business Travel Show Europe will feature more than 170 suppliers – including TMCs, airlines, hotel chains, ground transportation specialists and technology providers – and a two-day conference programme.

It will take place on September 30-October 1 at ExCeL London.

More: Booking with trusted providers key after uncertainty, Expedia research reveals

Heathrow’s Covid losses hit £2.9bn

EU Digital Covid Certificate remains ‘a work in progress’

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