New Research Reveals COVID-19 Impact and Outlook on Business Travel

New research commissioned by the SAP Concur organization in May – June 2020 provides important insights that are shaping a new normal for business travel. The data suggests travel will continue to play an irreplaceable role in meeting critical business needs. However, concerns around travellers’ health and safety, expectations of increased discrimination, and a new era of trip preparation and policies, will be front and center as travel resumes.

 

Notable highlights of the 200 responding Canadian business travellers include:

 

  • Mixed feelings among business travellers on returning to the road:
  • Nearly half of Canadian business travellers (46%) feel worried about resuming travel once restrictions are lifted, but nearly 3 in 10 (28%) feel excited as well.
  • More than half of Canadian business travellers (52%) have positive feelings about travelling again.
  • Nearly half of Canadian business travellers (47%) now say during the trip is the most stressful, rather than before (28%) or after the trip (25%).
    • This is a significant change from last year, when just over 1 in 5 (21%) said the same.

 

  • Business travel plays an important role in the success of today’s enterprise:
  • Canadian business travellers expect their company to experience negative outcomes due to travel restrictions around COVID-19, including a reduced number of deals or contracts signed that require in-person interactions (51%) and declines in new business wins that require in-person meetings (44%).

 

  • Business travellers more likely to hold themselves accountable compared to employers:
    • One third of Canadian business travellers (33%) will hold themselves most accountable for protecting their health and wellbeing once business travel resumes.
    • While, nearly 1 in 5 Canadian business travellers (19%) are likely to hold transportation providers accountable, as well as their employer (14%), the government (13%), or their company’s travel management company (10%).

 

  • Business travellers expect an increase in discrimination against certain groups while travelling:
    • Nearly 9 in 10 Canadian business travellers (89%) expect increased discrimination in the wake of COVID-19, especially against travellers exhibiting cold or flu symptoms (59%), travellers from countries with high infection rates (43%)—and even travellers of Asian descent (43%).
    • More than 1 in 4 Canadian business travellers (27%) also believe there will be an increase in discrimination against the elderly, as well as those wearing enhanced personal protective equipment (26%).

 

  • Health and safety are now top priority for business travellers when on the road:
  • Health and safety have become the top priority for 2 in 5 (43%) Canadian business travellers which is more than three times as many who prioritize business needs (13%).
  • Safety was only the second priority last year, but the effects of COVID-19 have exacerbated the issue from 24% to 43%.
  • Top concerns about returning to business travel also include infecting their families (69%) and getting sick themselves (68%).

 

  • Companies need to update travel policies to help business travellers return to the road safely:
    • 93% of Canadian business travellers consider some measures critical for safely returning to the road, including:
      • Mandatory personal health screenings for travelling employees (40%), limiting travel to only the most critical trips (38%), real-time health and safety updates (34%), and easier access to personal protective equipment (28%).
    • More than 9 in 10 Canadian business travellers (92%) believe they’d benefit from company training, especially, trainings on how to protect their health and safety during travel (50%) and how to maintain healthy habits while travelling (50%).

 

  • Canadian Business Travellers are relying on tech to alleviate concerns:
  • Mobile check-in is the most important mobile app feature (52%) Canadians want when travel resumes, followed by traveller safety information (38%,), the ability to book air travel (38%), and the ability to view and manage their trip itinerary (36%).
  • Canadian business travellers are looking for a breadth of on-demand functions, including loyalty programs (30%), the ability to automatically create and submit an expense report (21%), and even the ability to track and offset their carbon footprint (12%)
  • Almost 3 in 10 Canadian business travellers also want automatic notifications for out-of-policy bookings or expenses.

 

Download the global report here.

The survey was conducted by Wakefield Research (www.wakefieldresearch.com), a leading independent provider of quantitative, qualitative and hybrid market research, among 4,850 business travellers defined as those who travel for business three or more times annually from the following markets: US, Canada, Brazil, Mexico, UK, France, Germany, ANZ region (Australia, New Zealand), SEA region (Singapore, Malaysia), Greater China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, India, Korea, Italy, Spain, Dubai, Benelux (Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg), Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and Finland. Additionally, Wakefield Research surveyed 800 travel managers from the following markets: US, Brazil, Mexico, UK, France, Germany, SEA region (Singapore, Malaysia), and Hong Kong. Both surveys took place May – June 2020. 

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