Just-released surveys from the Global Business Travel Association and I-Meet provide new data points on the expected timeframe for the resumption of business travel and in-person meetings.
Over the past seven weeks, I-Meet, an online community of corporate, association, and third-party meeting professionals, has been polling its members weekly about when they expect face-to-face meetings to start taking place again. The most recent results, with more than 1,500 respondents, paint a grim picture for meetings through September, with only four percent expecting meetings business to resume in June and July and 12 percent expecting August and September. These numbers reflect a dramatic drop in optimism from when I-Meet first asked the question the week ending April 6. At that time, 24 percent predicted meetings would resume in June and July, and another 29 percent expected the August/September timeframe.
Here are I-Meet’s results to the question "When do you anticipate resuming F2F events?" for the week ending May 18.
June–July: 4 percent
August–September: 16 percent
October–December: 36 percent
2021: 35 percent
Uncertain: 8 percent
Of course, the first step to meeting again is for attendees to be able and willing to travel to events. At present, 56 percent of companies have stopped all business travel, and 37 percent only allow for some essential travel, according to GBTA. The good news is that the reins may be loosening. A GBTA poll conducted May 13-15 reveals that a large percentage of companies are at least considering ending their travel freezes. Here’s how U.S. travel managers characterize their plans to resume business travel:
Planning to resume travel in the near future: 28 percent
Considering resuming travel in the near future, but no definite plans: 44 percent
Not planning to resume travel in the near future: 16 percent
Uncertain: 12 percent
According to the GBTA poll, which received 1,705 responses globally, a majority of travel managers (62 percent) believe most or some employees will be willing to travel after restrictions are lifted. Among the top actions that hotels, airlines, and ground transportation companies can take to make companies feel more comfortable about travelers’ health and safety: increasing cleaning protocols, requiring masks of passengers (airlines) and staff (all), leaving the middle seat empty (airlines), and more training on sanitary practices.