Studies estimate that business travel will drop by 50% by the end of 2020. But after a year without other people, this attitude may change. People crave face-to-face interaction, and travel is on the rise again, thanks in part to the use of vaccines and the decline in COVID-19 infections.
Airlines are seeing an increase in demand for business travel, according to Delta CEO Ed Bastian, who spoke with NBC’s Lester Holt about the travel industry.
Although we are making progress, we are not seeing much business travel at this time, Bastian said. Probably still 80%, but we hope that with the end of summer in the fall and the increase in vaccination, as our country begins to reach herd immunity, things will pick up. All of our great companies tell me that they are ready to meet their customers, to meet their teams and see them. So it’s maybe a year or two behind on tourist travel.
Vaccinations play an important role in back comfort and travel safety.
A survey of its members conducted by the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) in February found that 79% would feel very comfortable or comfortable traveling for business after the injection of Covid 19.
Testing also plays an important role, and nearly half of participants said they support mandatory COVID-19 testing to ensure client and consumer safety during face-to-face encounters.
With the expansion of vaccination programs around the world, the confidence of travelers and businesses is returning, said Dave Hilfman, acting CEO of GBTA. It is encouraging to hear so much discussion about the resumption of business travel and the change in sentiment of the 16-25% of GBTA members and stakeholders who have resumed some domestic business travel in the past month.
Hotel companies are also prepared for the reactions of the meetings market by strengthening security protocols.
There is a strong desire to return to face-to-face meetings, and the support groups returning to our hotels will collaborate on event planning, said Derek DeCross, senior vice president of IHG. We want to contribute to a quality meeting experience and give participants the confidence they need to feel comfortable attending events in person if they have chosen to do so.
IHG’s Meet with Confidence program is an example of how hotels are embracing new security standards and includes resources, technologies and tools for hybrid events. Marriot offers the Connect With Confidence program and Hilton offers the EventReady program as part of its CleanStay program for personal meetings, conferences and groups.
While many see a full recovery in business travel, there are signs of life, especially in the travel industry.
Tammy Levent, CEO of Elite Travel and founder of the Travel Agent Success Kit (TASK), is hosting an event, their annual TASK Live gathering in Cancun from June 17-20, which is already sold out.
These agents are the cream of the crop, and they find the money to escape at the worst time of their lives because they know how important it is, Levent said.
T.A.S.K. Levent’s T.A.S.K. Live event is just one of many events returning to the travel industry, saying goodbye to the virtual event and coming together in real life.
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