Technological transformation that would usually happen over two to three years took place in the business travel sector in the first six months of the pandemic, according to a report out today.
The Future of Business Travel, a joint White Paper from the BTA and Amadeus, says this transformation will meet demands for contactless and risk managed travel when corporate travel returns.
But it stressed that this doesn’t mean the human element of managed business travel is extinct, with 51% of business travel specialists seeing human interaction as the number one success factor in both winning new clients and delivering effective travel programmes.
The paper was based on global data from Amadeus alongside interviews with eight of the BTA’s Board members.
Its findings, and the need for ongoing support for the industry, was due to be raised with MPs from across the House of Commons at an All Party Parliamentary Group for Business Travel today (Wednesday).
Clive Wratten, CEO of the BTA, said: “The travel industry has endured numerous setbacks in the fight against the pandemic. Today, I believe there are reasons to remain hopeful for our industry’s recovery.
“Working with Amadeus, one of the BTA’s industry partners, has helped us to identify the key trends and areas to address in order for the travel industry to recover and navigate a route out of this global crisis. With business travellers recognising the importance of post-pandemic public safety as well as technological and environmental advances, the TMC community has many reasons to stay positive as we enter the second half of 2021.”
Amadeus data from senior executives in the industry shows 37% are looking to a 2022 growth start with 46% looking to 2023.
“This is backed by IATA who have suggested that we won’t reach pre-pandemic travel levels until at least 2024,” says the White Paper.
It predicts the recovery will be led by “ambitious younger employees” and sectors, such as marine and energy, which have continued to travel throughout the pandemic.
Research found 80% of business travel executives believe health and safety will drive their return, with most willing to pay more for the highest-quality regimes.
Liz Emmott, Amadeus General Manager UK & Commercial Director Business Travel Accounts, UK, Ireland & Italy, said: “Collaboration will help us understand and shape the future of business travel – which is essential for accelerating recovery and building a more resilient and sustainable industry.
“It is perhaps one of the more positive legacies to come out of this pandemic. No-one is saying that 2021 will be plain sailing, but for travel to restart, it will require the biggest collaboration exercise ever.”