According to a recent poll from GBTA, nearly 60% of companies have cancelled or suspended all business trips, while 35% have done the same for non-essential trips but are still allowing some essential travel.
Due to governmental travel restrictions, international travel has obviously been more heavily impacted than domestic travel. As it relates to international travel, 77% of companies cancelled all trips and 21% cancelled most international trips. For domestic travel, 52% of companies cancelled all trips and 40% cancelled most trips. All said, business travel has ground to a halt.
What are people predicting for the future of business travel?
Looking ahead to what people are anticipating regarding business travel, most companies (61%) feel that domestic travel will resume within the next three months, whereas very few (27%) felt the same about international travel, as most (59%) are expecting that it will take six or more months before it resumes.
In order for travelers to feel confident, the vast majority of travelers in the poll rated these as "Important/Very Important:"
- Rate of new infections declines
- Governments lift travel restrictions and advisories
- Positive public health statements or guidelines get published
- Effective anti-viral treatments that could/would make infections less lethal
Does China offer hope for other markets?
Let's go back to where the global coronavirus pandemic started and consider what is happening there. According to this article, "Business travel slowly is recovering in China under tight government control and mostly at a domestic level." Domestic travel there has seen an uptick over the last six weeks, with the vast majority of it being for business. But things have changed.
A mobile health tracking system is in place and QR codes are being used. One Beijing-based travel manager said, "When you go outside of your city, you have to show a pass from the community you live in, [which] everybody has...You get your temperature taken and have the QR code out on your phone. I know for a fact people who come to Beijing for business travel have to bring that code with them."
While international travel is basically frozen, domestic travel in the past six weeks has seen an uptick, according to Kao. "We're processing a lot more domestic transactions," he said. "In Shanghai and Beijing, a lot of the sentiments from our corporate clients are that things are getting back to normal."