Top 5 Expectations of Canadian Business Travelers in 2021

New research from SAP Concur reveals almost 9 in 10 Canadians are ready to get back in the air


As Canada gets closer to the return of corporate travel, businesses are taking a closer look at how they can safely resume travel programs. New research commissioned by SAP Concur reveals Canadian business travellers overwhelmingly want to return to business travel. The report findings provide insight into how companies can prepare to meet the demands of travelling employees and ensure a responsible return to business travel.

The survey of 3,850 business travellers in 25 global markets included 250 within Canada. The top five Canadian findings include:


  1. Canadian travellers are ready to get back in the air.

Nearly nine in 10 Canadian business travellers are ready to resume travel in the next 12 months (89%) and get back to what they do best, including three in five who are very willing (59%). This is driven by travellers’ belief that they will suffer if their company does not increase business travel in the next year.

However, to feel comfortable, they expect increased flexibility, marking changes in how they travel and do business. In fact, Canadian travellers are looking to mix time in the air with time off. A surprising 92% plan to add leisure travel to their business trips in the next 12 months. In fact, 50% say they’ll do so a quarter or more of the time (compared to 38% globally).

  1. Canadian travellers worry failing to resume travel will hurt their career and their lives.

For many, business travel is tied to their career success and fulfillment—so much so that more than three-quarters of Canadian business travellers worry the inability to increase business travel will affect them personally (76%). Their personal career concerns include difficulty developing and maintaining business connections (49%), not advancing in their career (33%) and making less money (26%). In fact, an alarming 85%* of female business travellers fear personal or professional consequences if they don’t increase business travel in the coming year, significantly more than the 70%* of men who say the same.

As a result, almost two-thirds of Canadian business travellers (63%) say they are driving the return to the skies rather than their company—largely in part because they view their trips as opportunities to strengthen business relationships and broaden their horizons, and almost half of Canadian business want to make personal connections with customers and colleagues (49%).

  1. Flexibility is a top driver for Canadian business travellers.

In a key departure from the narrative of the previous year, 73% of Canadian business travellers rank flexibility as a top-consideration for business travel, well ahead of vaccination-related demands at 65%. This includes everything from planning through the completion of their trips: business travellers cite being able to select their preferred accommodations (51%) and mode of travel (37%) as essential travel perks. Findings suggest structured policies are not an issue for business travellers—provided those policies are up to date. Those whose company has a mandated travel policy (54%) or guidelines (32%) also see the ability to book travel directly on supplier websites as an essential benefit.

  1. Canadian business travellers do not want COVID-19 travel policies to stay in place.

Nearly 3 in 4 Canadian business travellers (73%) do not want their company to return to pre-COVID-19 policy. A third (33%) expect their company to adjust by allowing modifications to policies for health and safety. Business travellers with mandated policies (69%) or guidelines (51%) want looser restrictions. With greater flexibility, among other adjustments, they’d take trips closer to home (38% and 41%, respectively), stay at larger hotels (33% and 35%) and use their own car or rental instead of public transportation (40% and 24%).

  1. Safety remains a priority, but Canadian travellers feel it’s a shared responsibility.

Last year, more than one in three business travellers held themselves most accountable for their health and safety on a trip (33%), followed by the transportation providers (19%) and their employer (14%). Now, after experiencing the pandemic, one in four hold themselves most responsible (25%), followed by their company’s travel agency (21%) and their employer (19%).


Canadian business travellers say prior to the trip—as they plan and organize all their bookings and safety protocols—is wearing on them: More than 2 in 5 Canadian business travellers (45%) say the most stressful stage of the business trip comes before the trip itself suggesting travellers need more support and more solutions for planning their trips.

*Small base size; findings are directional.


For more information, download the Canadian addendum and Global Business Traveller whitepapers.


The survey was conducted by Wakefield Research (, a leading independent provider of quantitative, qualitative and hybrid market research, among 3,850 business travellers defined as those who travel for business three or more times annually from the following markets: U.S., Canada, Brazil, Mexico, LAC (Colombia, Chile, Peru, and Argentina), UK, France, Germany, ANZ region (Australia and New Zealand), SEA region (Singapore and Malaysia), China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, India, Korea, Italy, Spain, Dubai, Benelux (Belgium, Netherlands, and Luxembourg), South Africa, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and Finland. Additionally, Wakefield Research surveyed 700 travel managers from the following markets: U.S., Mexico, UK, France, Germany, SEA region (Singapore and Malaysia), and Hong Kong. Both surveys took place April – May 2021. For the interviews conducted in this study, the chances are 95 in 100 that a survey result does not vary, plus or minus, by more than 1.6 percentage points from the result that would be obtained if interviews had been conducted with all persons in the universe represented by the sample.

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