While vacation travel has steadily improved over the past few months, business travel is still struggling to return. A Tourism Economics analysis released this week by the US Travel Association found that both ongoing COVID restrictions and a “patchwork approach” to reopening across the country will prevent the segment from recovering until at least 2024 -person meetings and Events fell 76 percent last year, a loss of $ 97 billion in total spending.
Thanks to increasing vaccinations and the resulting drop in infection rates, local markets have lowered overall restrictions, leading to a rebound of the trust of travelers. Tourism Economics predicts that domestic recreational traffic will peak at 99% of its pre-pandemic peak in 2022 and continue to increase thereafter. However, as there are no clear and consistent guidelines from the federal health authorities on meetings and events, it is expected that business travel will not regain their prepandemic volume in the next two years. Only about a third (35 percent) of US businesses currently travel for business.
Also this week, the Global Business Travel Association released the results of its 20th survey that rated how GBTA members returned to manage business travel.
The first survey this summer found a continuation of the positive momentum reported last month as companies implement or finalize plans to resume domestic business travel. Two-fifths (40 percent) of respondents said their company’s plan to resume non-essential domestic business travel “has already taken place” in the country they are based in – compared with 34 percent last month that “some.” “Domestic travel allowed. Another third (33 percent) say their company has set a date (8 percent) for resuming domestic business or is working on it (25 percent). Only 18% “wait and see what happens” while 6% are “not sure”.
As domestic business travel approaches a return, the outlook for international business travel remains bleak, according to GBTA. More than three in five respondents (62 percent) say their company is waiting to see what happens or is not sure whether to resume non-essential international business travel from the country in which they are based. And in Canada, both national and international business travel plans have been delayed.
“After a spring that was marked by growing optimism in most regions, many companies are now planning to resume business travel – especially in the US and Europe. While caution is still required with cross-border travel, nearly three-quarters of our survey participants say their company has resumed non-essential domestic business travel or is working to schedule a resumption of those trips, “said Suzanne Neufang, CEO of GBTA. “Optimism has given way to action, and phased support for corporate travel resumption policies has indeed begun. While this is a major breakthrough, our research says it will be some time before companies allow as many trips – or even the same type of trips – as they did before the pandemic. “
Three in four (77 percent ) GBTA buyers and buyers believe that their employees are “more willing” or “very willing” to travel for business in the current environment. That is 12 percentage points more than in the last survey (May 2021).
One of the main factors behind the slow return of meetings and events is what the Tourism Economics report called “the uneven patchwork of guidelines”, the currently regulates large judicial-to-jurisdictional gatherings across the country. The U.S. Travel Association urges the adoption of clear and consistent federal guidelines recognizing that health and safety measures are easier to implement at professional meetings and events than at other forms of large gatherings. Ohio State University health scientists also have a white paper released that includes analysis that suggests it is safe to return to conducting and participating in PMEs. In “The Scientific-Based Evidence for Conducting Safe and Healthy Professional Meetings and Events,” the authors cited the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Journal of the American Medical Association Network to outline best practices to ensure a safe return Extensive, personal specialist meetings and events. The paper also differentiates PMEs from other large gatherings, noting that PMEs provide a controlled environment that enables better security measures.
“To get back to our prepandemic business, we need to use evidence-based tactics that we learned during the pandemic to keep people safe and healthy, ”said study co-author Bernadette Melnyk, vice president of health promotion, the university’s chief wellness officer and dean of the College of Nursing at Ohio State University. “We need to keep pursuing the best of developing science as we make plans to return to personal events.” Polls show that 85 percent of American workers consider personal events to be “irreplaceable,” and 81 percent consider those before Pandemic, missed and likely will attend such events in the future.
“A thriving travel industry – and the entire US economy – depends on the return of business travel and PMEs,” said Roger Dow, President and CEO of the US Travel Association. “Americans strive to reconnect face-to-face with colleagues through business meetings, conferences, and conventions, and these scientific analyzes and recommendations make it clear that it is possible and safe to do so. A consistent approach to reopening PMEs, including the CDC guidelines that distinguish PMEs from other large gatherings, is critical to instilling confidence and optimism in this key sector of our economy. ”
To encourage the return of professional meetings and events support, starts a coalition of companies and organizations in the travel industry under the umbrella of the US Travel Association is also launching an initiative called “Let’s Meet There” to promote the full and safe reopening of the business travel sector.
“As more American adults are vaccinated and pent-up travel needs are reduced, it is more important than ever that companies and Local, state and state governments recognize the role that meetings and events will play in our ability to have a full economic recovery, “said Chris Nassetta, Hilton President and CEO. “By following CDC guidelines and implementing sensible security measures, we are hosting professional meetings and events in our hotels across the country and are confident that these important gatherings can be held safely again.”