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Survey: Travel Willingness Slips, But Some Cause for Optimism


2021-09-23 GBTA Chart

While a new survey of travel managers and industry suppliers doesn’t show any particular increase in optimism about near-term business travel demand, a few other indicators and comments this week point to perhaps a stronger stretch of interest as U.S. Covid-19 case counts begin to decline. 

A September survey of travel managers found that fewer respondents considered their employees ready to travel on business trips. This is the lowest number since April 2021. The Global Business Travel Association conducted a survey among 280 members and their procurement professionals on Sept. 7-12. Approximately 69 percent of respondents said that their employees are willing or eager to travel. This is a decrease from the 72 percent reported in August, and 77% in July.

The GBTA survey results show that travel suppliers are not optimistic. Only 38 percent reported that their travel bookings were down in the month of August, while 31% said they had experienced a decline in July. This month’s survey by GBTA changed the question to reflect the fact that respondents were asked how they had booked their travels in the week prior.

However, 32% of respondents to the survey said that their bookings had increased in September to 24% in August. And the late-summer U.S. delta-variant wave of Covid-19 that swept through the Southern states in particular appears to be on the wane for the past week or two, according to The New York Times’ database.

These suppliers don’t seem to be the only ones who are seeing increased business travel activity. Hyatt Hotels Corp. filed this week with U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. It cited “growing momentum business transient and business group business” in September.

Hyatt states that although group cancellations increased in August and September respectively, the number of new bookings has remained steady. Hyatt also stated that business transient bookings increased materially in September compared with August 2021.

Dara Khosrowshahi, Uber’s CEO, stated that there has been a “nice bump” in business travel. She did not give details. Khosrowshahi spoke one day after ride-hailing company Uber revealed third-quarter revenues trends that were higher than expected. 

Airlines Reporting Corp. released this week’s report that U.S. corporate-oriented travel agencies reported that their air sales in the week ending September 19th were 61.7% lower than the comparable week in 2019. This is better than the 62.9 decrease the week before, and it was the lowest comparison decline since August. 

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