Corporate TravelMajority surveyed believe domestic business travel will gradually return in one to three months, and internationally in six to 12

Asia, EMEA will lead business travel recovery: FCM survey

Companies in the mining and construction sectors indicate the fastest return to travel, according to a study by FCM. Credit: JumlongCh/Getty Images
Companies in the mining and construction sectors indicate the fastest return to travel, according to a study by FCM. Credit: JumlongCh/Getty Images

Majority of businesses will take a phased approach to resuming domestic and international corporate travel over the next 12 months, according to a survey conducted by FCM Travel Solutions.

As countries emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic, the global travel management company surveyed 1,600 business travel managers, bookers and travellers in EMEA, Asia, the Americas, India, Australia and New Zealand for its State of the Market survey.

Clients taking part in the study, which was conducted by FCM’s consulting arm 4th Dimension (4D), spanned national businesses spending around US$100,000 per annum to large multi-national customers with annual travel spends of over US$100 million.

Seventy per cent of participants agreed or strongly agreed that they expected to increase business travel gradually over a period time with consensus peaking in business travel returning domestically in one to three months (40% of respondents) and internationally in six to twelve months (32% of respondents).

Factors for resuming business travel

The easing or complete lift of border restrictions ranked as the primary trigger for resuming business travel (70% said this would have significant impact). This is closely followed by organisational endorsement that it is safe to travel (68% of respondents indicated traveller safety will have a significant impact and must be reflected in travel policy). However only half of those surveyed believe that their business travel volumes will eventually reach pre-pandemic levels.

Which region will lead corporate travel recovery?

Business travel recovery will be led by Asia and EMEA, according to survey participants in those regions. In Asia, 50% of respondents have already begun booking domestic travel and 37% expect to resume international travel in three to six months. In EMEA, 37% of survey participants expect to travel domestically within one to three months, and 32% anticipate starting to book international trips within three to six months.

This is due to faster opening of borders intra region and easer movement geographically compared to the rest of the world.

Conversely, there was high uncertainty about when domestic and international business travel will resume significantly in the Americas with 28% of respondents saying they did not know when travel would return.

“Many companies will be looking to Asia and Europe, where restrictions have started to ease gradually,” said Bertrand Saillet, managing director for Asia, FCM Travel Solutions.

“From these insights, we want to optimise efforts and orchestrate travel recovery by aligning our client’s future travel policies with their business recovery plan. This research reveals the fundamental principles of an organisation’s focus on business travel after the pandemic and will help us to translate into tangible actions contributing towards a corporate’s travel recovery programme," he added.

Other notable findings in the State of the Market study’s first phase are as follows:

-Companies in the mining and construction sectors indicate the fastest return to travel: 64% of respondents in mining expect to travel domestically within one to three months; 69% of respondents in construction expect to travel domestically and internationally within the same timeframe.

-Construction (39%), training & education (35%) and financial services (34%) sectors indicate increasing business travel within first six months, due to a shorter lead time in arranging business travel.

-Winning new business (43%) and managing existing client relationships (39%) are the two dominant business activities motivating organisations to a return to travel.

Phase 2 of the study will review and monitor any marked variation in the first round of results while governments continue to relax lockdown restrictions, propose air travel corridors, or implement quarantine periods for international travellers.

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