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Leading data and analytics firm GlobalData has seen evidence through analysis of corporate filings that suggests companies are looking to resume business travel, which practically disappeared during the pandemic.
As countries around the world began to drop their entry requirements and COVID-related restrictions in 2021, the number of mentions of "business travel" made per company, across all sectors, rose by 17 percent, then increased by a further four percent in 2022.
"Zoom calls were quite frequent throughout 2020 and 2021 for sales, marketing, or other activities," observed Rinaldo Pereira, Business Fundamentals Analyst at GlobalData. "A rise in mentions of business travel per company points at corporates looking to reinstate face-to-face meetings despite there still being a considerable amount of COVID-19 cases across the globe."
Thus far in 2022, over 1,500 public companies have been discussing business travel. Travel and tourism sector players are becoming increasingly optimistic about employees returning to work at companies in a range of industries, in hopes that this will create an increased demand for business travel and help bolster the sector's recovery.
"Airlines rapidly increased their Spring/Summer schedules for 2022, as vaccination programs displayed strong progress in many key markets for the travel industry, resulting in booking confidence increasing in 2021," remarked Ralph Hollister, Travel and Tourism Analyst at GlobalData. "However, many airlines have found it difficult to hire, vet, and train new staff members to meet the unforeseen demand for international flights from travelers and are now having to cancel hundreds of flights."
Plenty of companies are discussing a return to relying on business travel to help generate more sales leads and seem confident that they can regain ground lost during 2020 and 2021, when trade shows and in-person marketing activities were mostly suspended.
However, this observed trend does not apply to all companies or all sectors equally. Firms operating in such sectors as financial services, retail, construction and technology lead the pack in terms of the most "business travel" mentions recorded per company. Those whose documentation indicated optimism about resuming business travel this year included well-known names like PayPal, American Express, Microsoft and Vinci SA.
"While optimism around business travel has grown in 2022, it is also important to note that many companies will continue to offer work from home options for employees and reduce budgets for business travel," Pereira added. "With uncertainties persisting due to the ongoing pandemic, companies are likely to look at business travel only when necessary."
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Laurie Baratti is a San Diego-based journalist whose work has previously appeared in publications like TravelAge West, SPACE,...
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