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Staff shortages outrank Covid concerns among corporate travellers

Staff shortages have overtaken government restrictions due to Covid-19 as the biggest concern in the corporate travel sector.

That is according to the latest poll of Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) members, which found 41% of respondents reported staff shortages having a ‘significant impact’ on corporate travel programmes, ahead of government restrictions reported by 39%.

More than half of travel suppliers (51%) reported staff shortages had affected travel.

Inflation was cited as a significant concern by one third of respondents (32%) and the oil price by almost as many (30%), with more than one in four (27%) citing more general economic concerns.

One in five GBTA respondents (21%) said their company still rarely allowed corporate travel and one third (35%) reported Russia’s war in Ukraine had halted at least some business travel.

Two out of five respondents (39%) believed their company would sanction fewer business trips following the pandemic than before it and 37% said more objectives were assigned to each trip than before.

One in four (24%) reported companies now impose more trip-approval requirements before travel than before the pandemic.

Almost half (46%) reported there is still ‘some concern’ about resuming travel despite the widespread return.

Two-thirds of respondents (65%) said their company allowed an opt-out process for employees concerned about Covid-19 risks. Of these, 63% reported employees could opt out of any trip, while 31% said requests were addressed case by case.

The poll was undertaken before the US announced the removal of Covid testing requirements for inbound travellers from June 12.

Nine out of 10 respondents (89%) reported domestic business travel was sometimes or usually allowed at their company in June, and almost eight out of 10 (78%) reported international business travel was allowed.

This was in line with responses in the last GBTA poll in April.

Nine out of 10 travel suppliers (88%) reported feeling more optimistic about the recovery than a month ago.

A similar proportion of travel management companies (TMCs) and suppliers (84%) reported bookings had increased on the previous month.

GBTA chief executive Suzanne Neufang said: “Companies and employees are getting back to travelling for business as Covid-19 becomes more manageable in many regions.

“However, we’re seeing factors beyond Covid-19 coming into play that could affect the speed and trajectory of recovery for business travel in the second half of 2022.”

The GBTA poll of 547 travel buyers and suppliers was conducted on June 6-17.

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