Full corporate travel recovery still out of reach

Despite many companies’ expectations, spending on business travel is at least two years away from reaching pre-pandemic levels, according to a new study.

Deloitte Reshaping the Landscape: Business Travel in 2022 and Beyond The study reveals that business travel spending is expected to reach 36% of 2019 levels in the second quarter of 2022 and, by the end of the year, 55% of 2019 levels. By the end of 2023 , business travel is expected to reach 68% of pre-pandemic levels.

Variants of COVID contributed to the longer schedule, with two-thirds of survey respondents (66%) saying Delta and Omicron caused them to push travel deadlines.

Travel restrictions and employee reluctance to travel also contribute, as do concerns about travel prices.

“Business travel looked poised to take off last summer, but the emergence of COVID-19 variants quickly anchored plans – as a result, executives are more conservative in their estimates of business travel recovery “, says Mike Daher, vice president of Deloitte and American leader in transportation, hospitality and services without certification.

“While many of us are eager to see our colleagues, customers and associates in person, technology platforms have enabled most companies to not only continue their operations remotely, but to thrive doing so. Combined with workplace flexibility that shows no signs of disappearing, companies are reassessing and redefining when and why employees travel – which can create a suitcase full of new opportunities for organizations to evolve and grow.

Work at home

Company work-from-home policies also impact how and when employees travel for business. For companies dominating work from home in Q2 2022, 36% expect their business travel spending to return to 2019 levels by the end of 2023. On the other hand, 71% of Office-heavy companies say travel spending will recover by the end of 2023. the end of next year.

Due to flexible working arrangements, one in four respondents expect more trips to corporate headquarters, despite less frequent trips overall.

Meanwhile, short-term rentals — touted as places that offer more space amid the pandemic — haven’t become a mainstay of business travel programs.

Only one in 10 companies included non-traditional accommodation in their corporate booking tools. About half (49%) of companies do not reimburse employees for non-hotel accommodation.

Sustainability

According to the report, the decline in business travel throughout the pandemic has helped companies make significant gains toward their sustainability goals and bottom line.

In turn, business leaders assess the expense and carbon emissions involved, as well as the ability of technology to replace the need to meet in person, as they assess the trips employees would need to make.

A third of travel managers (35%) say their company has committed to reducing carbon emissions by a specific amount over a given period, which impacts when and how employees travel.

Most respondents expect sustainability to reduce their travel spending in 2025 by 10% or less, while nearly three in 10 expect a reduction of 11% to 25%.

On the supplier side, nearly one in three travel suppliers seek advice from travel management companies on how to reduce their carbon footprint. Meanwhile, a quarter of travel managers say they will prioritize travel suppliers that invest in sustainability.