Nearly half of buyers (48%) expect their travel spend to be down by 50% next year compared to 2019 volumes.
According to ITM’s Top Priorities for 2022 survey, revealed today at the virtual ITM Trends Summit, buyers will allocate only 25% of their budget to internal meetings, compared with 50% in 2019.
Besides Covid-19, buyers said the main challenges are the complexity of border restrictions, quarantine and testing protocols.
The vast majority (88%) felt this would be the top factor to negatively impact on their confidence in business travel levels next year.
In second place was EU legislative changes relating to travel, ranked by 49% of buyers and moving up from fourth place in the list 2021.
Asked if their travel programme was fully prepared for managing new European travel regulations, 46% of buyers said ‘no’, compared with 45% last year.
ITM said this indicates little progress has been made because Covid complexities and low travel volumes have masked the required changes.
Influencing sustainable practice ranks as the second biggest challenge that buyers will face when it comes to managing travel in 2022.
However, 40% of buyers said they currently do not stipulate suppliers must comply with sustainability requirements.
For air travel, 36% of buyers said their policy allows travellers to select a sustainable option even if the cost was higher, up from 30% in 2020 and a big jump from 17% in 2019.
For the first time, the ITM survey also asked buyers if their travel policies allow booking sustainable ground transport practices regardless of cost.
Almost half of respondents (47%) said that they would favour sustainable ground transport practice over cost.
There was also a big jump in the number of buyers who expect to see a modal shift in air to rail travel in 2022, rising from 33% last year to 58% in this year’s survey.
The survey of 100 corporate travel buyers, managers and heads of travel took place over a two-week period at the end of November 2021.
A new priority – managing the return to travel – made its debut at the top of the list, closely followed by duty of care, traveller wellbeing and sustainable practice.
The survey found almost half of respondents feel that their online booking tool is not ready to support delivery against these priorities.
Whilst sustainability appears to have remained in fourth place, it has in effect moved up one step, taking into account the newcomer at number one.
Diversity, equity and inclusion move into the top 10 for the first time, rising two places to rank ninth.
Meanwhile budget control has fallen by two places to sixth place.
Just over half (51%) of buyers will not make any changes to their TMC commercial models as a result of the pandemic, while 38% will switch to a hybrid model and only 2% said they would switch to a subscription model.