The business travel community continues to go through a tumultuous time even as restrictions begin to lift in some countries, and there are many considerations across the entire ecosystem.
On a positive note, research from travel and expense tech provider SAP Concur shows that overall, 59% of business travelers have a positive sentiment about their next business trip, once COVID-19 restrictions lift.
However, 39% say they are worried about the return to travel, and 30% express anxiety about it.
The survey of almost 5,000 travelers across more than 20 markets reveals that travelers feel there will be fewer deals being done and a decline in business.
Among frequent travelers, those who take six or more trips a year, 55% believe there will be fewer deals, and 49% predict declines in business.
That said, business travelers continue to see travel as playing a critical role, albeit one with health and safety and additional preparation now much more of a consideration.
The study reveals 65% of business travelers put personal health and safety in their top three considerations for a return to travel, with concerns about infecting family also cited by 55% and concerns about being infected themselves, 53%.
Travelers also expect new policies and procedures around taking business trips, with 96% highlighting at least one measure they consider to be critical for their employer to put in place.
Measures include mandatory health screenings for traveling employees (39%), limiting business travel to only the most business-critical trips (39%) and easier access to PPE (33%).
And, 65% of employees say they will act if their companies do not put measures in place, with 45% saying they will ask to limit or reduce travel in their current position.
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The majority of travel managers included in the survey (96%) believe their companies are not fully ready to manage the evolving needs and expectations of traveling employees.
Some of the biggest pain points cited in the survey include the volume of canceled reservations (44%); processing of refunds, receipts and unused tickets (43%); and determining if it is safe to travel in the absence of government guidelines (40%_.
A recent study from FCM Travel Solutions found that 89% of travelers are waiting for the green light from their companies before making any travel plans.
One of the more grim findings in the study is that 90% of respondents expect an increase in discrimination related to travelers with symptoms and/or country of origin.
For example, 49% believe those who show cold or flu-like symptoms will face increased discrimination.
Similarly, 49% believe those from countries with higher-than-average infection rates will face increased discrimination, and almost a third believe travelers of Asian descent will experience increased discrimination.
The survey was conducted by Wakefield Research from May 20 to June 9 across 23 markets including the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, France and Germany.