Business travel recovery accelerates more than expected in post pandemic

 Friday, September 23, 2022 

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A survey of North American and European travel and procurement specialists, published by corporate travel technology firm HRS and the GBTA, found that 54 per cent had seen travel accelerate either “more quickly” or “much more quickly” this year than they had anticipated back in January.

The poll also illustrated how the return to travel from the depths of the Covid-19 pandemic has not always been smooth, due to the high level of transport disruption this summer, with 77 per cent of buyers spending more time “troubleshooting” issues faced by their travellers.

Another change is the increased time that buyers are now spending on data analysis, with 52 per cent saying they are taking “more time” or “much more time” on this task.

Suzanne Neufang, CEO of the GBTA, said: “It’s great to see that business travel is coming back. The vast majority of suppliers and travel management companies continue reporting booking increases each month.

“But as outlined by the survey, the evolution we’ve seen since the pandemic is driving tremendous change across the business travel ecosystem. Travel management teams now have a broader range of issues to address beyond negotiating supplier deals.”

The survey showed how the new workplace environment is affecting travel buying and procurement, particularly around trends such as “hybrid” working and a reduction in office space post-Covid.

Even when organisations reopen all their offices, two-thirds of buyers expect that hybrid working practices will continue.

Nearly 40 per cent of buyers said their company was now hiring more remote workers than pre-pandemic. The majority (79 per cent) added that this remote working policy boosted employee morale and 72 per cent said it also helped with talent recruitment.

This trend means that sourcing co-working spaces for staff to meet has become a more active issue within procurement and travel departments. Currently only 17 per cent of buyers say that co-working spaces are fully managed, with 44 per cent not even knowing how these spaces are being procured by their organisation.

The survey suggests that most buyers (71 per cent) would like to receive consolidated data from hotel, meeting and co-working bookings, with 74 per cent saying it would be easier for employees to book both hotels and co-working spaces at the same time through a single platform.

Tobias Ragge, CEO of HRS, added: “Technologies addressing these trends are being launched and refined, with friction-reducing automation improving the everyday experience for employees.

“How quickly are you examining which solution best works for your workforce while also maximising your operational budgets? This is the issue we see more frequently in our corporate engagements this year.”

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