Phased approach expected for business travel return, FCM poll finds

A phased approach to resuming domestic and international business travel over the next year will be taken by a majority of organisations.

A global poll of 1,600 business travel managers, bookers and travellers undertaken by FCM and Corporate Traveller as countries emerge from the Covid-19 crisis.

The study found that 70% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that they expected to increase business travel gradually over a period time with consensus peaking in business travel returning domestically in one to three months (40% of respondents) and internationally in six to 12 months (32%).

The easing or complete lifting of border restrictions ranked as the primary trigger for resuming business travel, with 70% saying this would have significant impact.

This was closely followed by organisational endorsement that it is safe to travel – 68% of respondents indicated traveller safety will have a significant impact and must be reflected in travel policy.

But only half of respondents believe that their business travel volumes will eventually reach pre-coronavirus levels.

Recovery will be led by Asia and EMEA, according to participants in those regions.

In Asia, 50% of respondents have already begun booking domestic travel and 37% expect to resume international travel in three to six months.

In EMEA, 37% of survey participants expect to travel domestically within one to three months, and 32% anticipate starting to book international trips within three to six months. This is due to faster opening of borders intra region and easer movement geographically compared to the rest of the world.

The highest level of uncertainty around when domestic and international business travel will resume significantly was in the Americas with 28% of respondents saying that they did not know when travel would return.

FCM Travel Solutions global managing director Marcus Eklund said: “The business travel landscape and the needs of our customers have changed beyond all recognition over the last few months and business travel conditions will continue to evolve and shift as everyone comes out the other side of the global pandemic.

“It’s vital that FCM and our sister TMC Corporate Traveller understand if and how our clients in each market, and industry sectors will start to travel again, and their primary concerns and objectives when they do so.

“The first phase of our state of the market survey has given us valuable insight into this process and how we can provide the best level of support.

“However, the whole post-Covid 19 era is still full of uncertainties and everyone is living and working in an environment that will continue to change.

“This study is therefore an ongoing research project including customer polls in phase one and two, which will be followed by further in-depth customer interviews and focus groups over the next two months.”

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