ITB Berlin: Business Travel Still Far Below pre-Covid Levels in Some Areas
For business travel, the return to pre-pandemic normality has been moved back two years to 2026, according to the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA).
Inflation, China’s economic problems and the effects on global supply chains were among the reasons listed by the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) on Wednesday at ITB Berlin 2023.
“Basic parameters concerning business travel had also changed,” said GBTA CEO Suzanne Neufang.
According to GBTA data, following the slump in 2020 the curve had peaked sharply around 2021/22, but had since dropped off again, due in part to China opening up quickly again and resurgent infections there. Currently the curve was pointing downwards – probably until 2026, says GBTA.
“During the pandemic business travel decision-makers had learned that virtual meetings offered advantages in some respects, even if on the other hand there was fundamentally no substitute for meeting in person,” Neufang said.
Moreover, sustainability was increasingly becoming an issue, and fewer business trips meant a smaller carbon footprint. All the while, business trips had not gone entirely out of fashion for internal meetings.
Who is taking business trips?
“Financial companies and insurances easily topped the list of those sectors taking business trips again at more or less pre-pandemic levels,” Neufang said. At the other end of the scale were NGOs and foundations.
Moreover, the data showed that 45 percent of travel managers had increased their budgets.
According to GBTA, faced with the general skills shortage travellers’ expectations had grown. Many of them expected to undertake blended travel, for example in order to extend a business trip by a few days off at their destination. A survey among travel managers found that employers were divided here: 41 percent were in favour, trending upwards, while 42 percent were against.
Summarising, Neufang listed five business travel trends: China remained difficult to forecast, business travellers as such had higher expectations, demand for eco-friendly travel was on the rise, technological change slowed things down, and personal trips would play a big role again.
With the slogan “Open for Change”, the world’s leading travel trade show ITB Berlin opened its doors on Tuesday for the first time after a three-year hiatus caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. ITB Berlin wrapped up on Thursday.