GBTA Poll: Vaccine a Game-Changer for a Return to Travel

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The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), the world’s largest business travel association, finds most GBTA members and stakeholders (79 %) would be “very comfortable” or “comfortable” traveling for business after receiving the Covid-19 vaccination, and almost half support mandatoy testing prior to travel to ensure the safety of customers and clients when meeting face-to-face.

The latest findings come from the 16th installment of the coronavirus poll, conducted by GBTA since the onset of the pandemic to measure its impact on business travel.

Key Findings:
– Respondents see an increase in employee willingness to travel. More than half (55 %) of GBTA buyer and procurement members feel their employees are ‘willing’ or ‘very willing’ to travel for business in the current environment, up from 49 % in the January poll. Just 17 % of the buyer and/or procurement members feel their employees are unwilling to travel for business at the present time.
– The majority of respondents (79 %) say they would be “very comfortable” or “comfortable” traveling for business after receiving the Covid-19 vaccination. Another one in ten (14 %) are neutral or would be uncomfortable traveling for business (7 %).
– Almost half (49 %) of GBTA member and stakeholder respondents feel it is a “good policy” to mandate Covid-19 testing for employees before they can travel for work. Respondents from Europe are more likely (58 %) than respondents from North America (44 %) to say mandated testing is a ”good policy.” Less than one in five think it is a “bad policy” (15 %) or are unsure (16 %).
– Among those who think mandated testing prior to business travel is a “good policy,” most feel it is because customers and clients will feel safe having face-to-face meetings (69 %) and it will help resume business travel (64 %).
– European respondents (67 %) are more likely to feel mandated testing will help monitor employee safety and wellness than respondents based in North America (53 %). In addition, more European respondents say mandated testing will help resume business travel (77 %) than respondents based in North America (60 %).
– A majority of GBTA members and stakeholders (58 %) support airlines requiring passengers provide proof of vaccination in order to fly (once vaccines become more readily available), whereas one-quarter (28 %) do not and 15 % are unsure. European respondents (65 %) are more likely than those in North America (54%) to support proof of vaccination to fly.
– Border closures and restrictions have significantly impacted business travel. Two-thirds (68 %) of GBTA members and stakeholders report border closures and restrictions have reduced business travel at their company and over half (56 %) say the restrictions and closures have increased confusion and uncertainties about when business travel can resume.
– In addition, four in ten (43 %) say border closures and restrictions have impacted their company recovery efforts in 2021. Another one in ten (10 %) report border closures and restrictions have restricted imports/exports of goods and services needed by their company, and have employees stuck in a country/region unable to return home (8 %). Only one in ten say border closures and/or restrictions have not impacted their company.
– Respondents in Europe (67 %) are more likely than those in North America (51 %) to say border closures and restrictions have increased confusion and uncertainties about when business travel can resume.
– Feelings about Covid-19 pre-testing as a requirement for domestic business travel vary. Half (52 %) of GBTA members and stakeholders support pre-testing while one-third (33 %) do not.
– Companies have undertaken a host of measures as a result of the coronavirus, including:

Yes No Don’t Know
North America Suopliers/ TMC
Laid off employees 88 % 11 % 1 %
Furloughed employees 80 % 19 % 1 %
Pay cuts for employees 75 % 20 % 5 %
Europe Suppliers/ TMC
Laid off employees 66 % 30 % 4 %
Furloughed employees 62 % 30 % 8 %
Pay cuts for employees 60 % 32 % 8 %

– Most GBTA member companies have not opened international (89 %) or domestic (64 %) travel as companies continue to cancel and/or suspend almost all business travel regardless of destination. In fact, a strong majority of GBTA member companies (76 %) continue to report they have suspended or cancelled all business travel regardless of location.

“As vaccination programs ramp up globally, traveler and corporate confidence is starting to return,” said Dave Hilfman, Interim Executive Director, GBTA. “It is reassuring to hear so much discussion around business travel resuming and a change in sentiment from 16 % to 25 % of GBTA members and stakeholders who have resumed some domestic business travel in the last month.”

Hilfman added “GBTA’s advocacy efforts are now more vital than ever, in ensuring a safe return to business travel as quickly as possible. This includes a consistant approach to travel restrictions, pre-testing and the possibility of vaccination passports once the vaccine is readily available.”

View the entire poll results here and key highlights.

Methodology:
GBTA conducted a poll of its members across the globe from February 8-15, 2021. A total of 779 responses were received.
Source: Global Business Travel Association (GBTA)