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5 Takeaways from GBTA’s Latest Covid Poll

Covid case numbers have dropped dramatically, but the effect of that improvement on business-travel stats isn’t immediate.

The Global Business Travel Association has surveyed its members relentlessly over the course of the pandemic. Approximately monthly since February 2020, it has asked members—travel managers, sourcing professionals, travel management companies, and suppliers—to weigh in on how Covid 19 concerns and restrictions have affected travel at their companies. With mask mandates around the country now falling quickly, GBTA last week released the results of its 27th Coronavirus poll

Many of the survey results mirror the optimism of a positive pandemic trajectory—just 44,386 new cases were reported in the U.S. on March 6, a 57 percent drop since February 20—but there are also signs that back-to-business sentiments are uneven.
Here are five takeaways from GBTA’s February survey:

• At no time in the past year have travelers been more willing to travel. Today, a full 82 percent of GBTA respondents are “somewhat willing” or “very willing” to travel. Even in mid-2021, when vaccine rates were going up and the Delta and Omicron variants were not yet on the scene, only 77 percent of respondents said travelers at their organizations were “somewhat willing” or “very willing” to travel. Further, the most recent survey revealed only 5 percent of employees are unwilling to travel.

• A large majority of respondents want to get out on the road at least as often as they did pre-pandemic. While 30 percent would prefer to travel “less” or “much less,” 68 percent are hoping to travel as much or more than before. Two percent of the respondents aren’t sure.

• Willingness to travel is still coming up against company restrictions.
Only 67 percent of the 461 companies that responded to the poll currently allow “some or more” domestic travel, and just 29 percent allow international travel. Of the companies that continue to restrict domestic travel, 58 expect to lower those restrictions in the next one to three months. International travel won’t come back as fast. Of those companies restricting international travel, just a third of them expect to change that in the next one to three months.

• On average, corporate travel buyers say their business-travel bookings are at 33 percent of pre-pandemic levels.
Only five percent of report that their company is at 71 to 100 percent of pre-pandemic bookings.

• Many suppliers reported an increase in bookings in February. However, the upturn was nothing like the rush of business seen in summer 2021.
Last July, 70 percent of suppliers (hotels, airlines, travel management companies, and ground transportation companies) reported an increase in bookings and another 27 percent said bookings had remained the same; only 3 percent reported a drop. In contrast, the booking numbers reported in February were modest (45 percent saw an increase, 20 percent stayed the same, and 35 percent decreased).

To read the full results of any of GBTA’s monthly polls tracking the impact of Covid-19 on the business travel environment, click here.

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