ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Business travel has become the latest casualty of the Coronavirus pandemic by coming to a halt across the globe, according to the latest research conducted by the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA). This is the fifth poll released by GBTA and its numbers are dire.

To understand COVID-19’s effects on business travel, GBTA conducted a lightning poll among its membership from April 1 to 4, receiving responses from almost 1,000 member companies throughout the world. View the entire poll results here.   

“With the spread of the Coronavirus and many countries under quarantine and other restrictions, it’s not surprising business travel has come to a halt. The toll in terms of public health and the global economy cannot be overstated. We applaud government actions and financial assistance to help address the global crisis and stabilize global economies. The survey shows travellers are eager to get back on the road, which is a positive sign for future business travel. Once this pandemic is successfully combatted, business travel can return to being a positive economic driver of the global economy,” says Scott Solombrino GBTA’s Chief Operating Officer and executive director.

Among the poll’s key findings are:

  • Business travel has come to a halt across the globe. Companies are cancelling or suspending almost all business travel regardless of country or region. GBTA members report their companies have cancelled or suspended “all” or “most” business trips to:
    • China – 99-per-cent cancelled or suspended
    • Hong Kong – 99-per-cent cancelled or suspended
    • Taiwan – 98-per-cent cancelled or suspended
    • Other Asia-Pacific countries (e.g., Japan, South Korea and Malaysia) – 98-per-cent cancelled or suspended
    • Europe – 97-per-cent cancelled or suspended
    • Middle East/Africa – 98-per-cent cancelled or suspended
    • Latin America – 97-per-cent cancelled or suspended
    • Canada – 95-per-cent cancelled or suspended
    • United States – 94-per-cent cancelled or suspended
  • Almost every GBTA member company (98 per cent) reports cancelling and/or suspending all international business travel. In addition, most (92 per cent) report they have cancelled or suspended all or most domestic travel.
    • Most GBTA members based in the United States (93 per cent) and Europe (92 per cent) report their company has cancelled or suspended all or most domestic business travel.
  • On average, GBTA travel buyers estimate their company has cancelled 92 per cent of business trips booked for March and April 2020.
  • GBTA members vary in terms of when they expect business travel to resume. Slightly more than half expect travel to resume within the next two (32 per cent) or three (19 per cent) months, while 16 per cent are unsure.
  • Almost every travel company (96 per cent) characterizes the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic as significant. Two-thirds of GBTA members who work for suppliers and/or travel-management companies (TMC) report their company has laid off (69 per cent), furloughed (66 per cent) and cut staff salaries (66 per cent) as a result of the pandemic. On average, suppliers and TMCs who have laid off or furloughed employees estimate nearly two-thirds (64 per cent) of the employees at their companies have been affected by these actions.
  • When asked to assess employee willingness to travel once restrictions are lifted, the majority of GBTA member companies expect most (33 per cent) or some (33 per cent) employees will be willing to travel. A much smaller proportion anticipates unwillingness on the part of some (13 per cent) or most (two per cent) employees to travel.
  • The Coronavirus has led many companies to host virtual meetings. The vast majority of GBTA member companies report they use virtual meetings frequently (83 per cent) or occasionally (11 per cent) due to physical-distancing concerns.
  • GBTA member companies continue to restrict business travel. More than half (55 per cent) report they have cancelled or suspended all business travel. Another 41-per-cent report their company has cancelled or suspended all non-essential trips but allows some essential travel.
  • GBTA member companies work to help protect employees from Coronavirus, including instituting work-from-home policies (86 per cent), providing updated health-and-safety information (76 per cent) and developing contingency plans to get work done such as teleconferences and video meetings (74 per cent). In addition, some GBTA member companies report they have limited the number of people who work in the office (49 per cent) and/or closed the office entirely (42 per cent). Other actions include temporarily closing all but essential departments (34 per cent) and moving some employees to new locations (13 per cent).
  • A majority of GBTA members (62 per cent) expect the Coronavirus will change the way their company conducts business once the threat is over.

Potential 2020 Monthly Business Travel Spend Revenue Loss Due to Coronavirus

Country/Region Potential 2020 Monthly Revenue Loss ($ Billions) % Companies Canceling/Suspending All or Most Trips to Region/Country
China ($35.1) 99%
Hong Kong ($0.32) 99%
Taiwan ($0.34) 98%
Asia Pacific (minus China, Hong Kong and Taiwan) ($19.5) 98%
Europe ($31.3) 97%
United States ($25.5) 94%
Canada ($2.1) 95%
Latin America ($4.6) 97%
Middle East/Africa ($3.7) 98%
Total Potential Monthly Revenue Loss ($122.5)  

Source: GBTA BTI™ Outlook Annual Global Report & Forecast (2019)

Methodology: GBTA conducted a poll of its members across the globe from April 1 to 4, 2020 and received responses from 974 GBTA global member companies.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.