In the last two years, the business travel industry experienced a new, unique challenge with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic not only caused a significant drop in travel, but it has also given rise to a number of protocols to help protect the safety of travelers and travel sector employees alike. Despite various obstacles that have kept travel from returning to its pre-crisis level, it is still expected that the industry will continue to grow in the coming years. However, factors that have kept travel from returning to its pre-crisis level remain, including the ongoing challenges from the pandemic, border restrictions, and the complexity of the travel market.
The COVID-19 pandemic is still with us and it is unlikely that the disease will be eradicated. As such, officials are starting to move away from some of the restrictions and requirements implemented during the crisis.
In March, the last state to require individuals to have masks ended its mandate. Many public-school systems in the United States also started to follow suit. It is expected that companies will begin implementing their return-to-office plans this summer.
Corporate travel is expected to grow significantly in the upcoming years. Many of the previously postponed in person meetings and conferences will finally be held. International trips are expected to increase significantly as well.
According to TripActions, business travel bookings for the first three months of March 2022 exceeded half of all bookings for the previous year. The company noted that the increasing acceptance of remote work has led to an increase in the number of business travelers planning on staying longer at their destinations. More than a third of said travelers are booking more extended stays, a three-percentage point increase over last year.
While positive signs have emerged from the crisis, travel managers have reduced their expectations for the recovery in 2022. Only 17% of them expect a full recovery in 2022, compared to over half of the surveyed respondents in 2021. The emergence of new variants and outbreaks also has caused many of them to rethink their travel projections.