State of the Market Survey: When will we start travelling again?

To travel or not to travel? That’s the question being asked around the globe right now. To get to the heart of what people really want, we asked our customers and clients from around the world to give us their perspective on when travel will return.

The Survey

A total of 1600 business travel managers, bookers and travellers in Australia, New Zealand, EMEA, Asia, and the Americas took part in our survey last month, in order to give us greater insight into our clients’ prevailing sentiments on business travel conditions as countries emerge from the COVID-19 crisis. 

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The Key Findings

  • The majority of businesses will take a phased approach to resuming domestic and international business travel over the next 12 months.
  • 49% of participants indicated they had either already started to travel or felt they would again within 30 days or 1-3 months. However only half of respondents believe that their business travel volumes will reach pre-coronavirus levels in the near term.
  • The easing or complete lift of border restrictions ranked as the primary trigger for resuming business travel (70% said this would have significant impact) 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).
  • 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. The highest level of uncertainty around when domestic and international business travel will resume significantly was in the Americas with 28% of respondents saying that they did not know when travel would return.

Other notable findings in the first phase:

  • Businesses in the mining and construction sectors indicate the fastest return to travel: 64% of respondents in the mining sector expect to travel domestically within one to three months and 69% of respondents in the construction sector 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 the first six months, due to a shorter lead time in arranging business travel.
  • Winning new business (43% of respondents) and managing existing client relationships (39% of respondents) are the two dominant business activities motivating organisations to a return to travel.
  • While a large portion of respondents indicated a need to revamp travel policy post COVID-19, 28% of respondents were unsure what needed to change. Of those that did indicate areas for travel policy change, "health and hygiene" and "duty of care" considerations were the two dominant categories.

What’s Next

4D’s analysts are evaluating phase two of our State of the Market study among the same 1600 participants in order to review and monitor any marked variation in the first round of results whilst governments continue to relax lockdown restrictions, propose air travel corridors, or implement quarantine periods for international travellers.