Report: Biz Travel Won't Fully Recover Until 2023

Anna Kroupina, Open Jaw

Charlene Leiss, President of
Flight Centre Travel Group – Americas, parent company of FCM and Corporate Traveller.

As many as 50% of businesses have started travelling again, but the number of corporate trips per year will be well down on pre-Covid levels until 2023, according to the third phase of a survey by FCM Travel Solutions and sister company Corporate Traveller. 

The third stage of the "State of the Market" survey consisted of one-on-one interviews in AUG 2020 with 250 of FCM’s multi-national large-scale clients and Corporate Traveller’s SME customers globally, representing over 60 countries where both TMCs manage their travel. It follows the results of two surveys released in MAY and JUN.

The combined results of the three State of the Market surveys show that over 90% of businesses say they plan to travel domestically and on short haul international flights within three months of governments re-opening borders and lifting restrictions. But the number of trips taken will be lower, as only 26% plan to return to pre-Covid-19 levels for domestic travel in 2021.

Clients still have long-haul travel plans on hold indefinitely. Pre-COVID, the average number of annual business trips per traveller was six to eight; this number is likely to fall between 3 and 4 annual trips per person, until 2023, according to the report.

Here is a snapshot of areas of business where people have continued to travel or will travel again soonest:

  • Mining and Wholesale top the list, with roughly 40% of respondents from those businesses saying they continued travelling throughout the global shutdown. As many as 80% have resumed travel at this point.
  • Construction and Food Services follow closely behind, with roughly 70% of respondents indicating they’ve started travelling again.
  • Across all industries, the first people to travel are sales, client management and project workforce who are focused on business growth, customer retention and the resumption of projects. 
  • 19% of respondents agree the least likely to travel in the near future were administration and internal support staff, as they are not client-facing.


“As travel restrictions are lifted and we all resume our lives in ‘the new normal’, it’s important that we establish a path forward as a business and as an industry,” said Charlene Leiss, President of Flight Centre Travel Group, Americas, FCM and Corporate Traveller’s parent company. “Understanding how businesses are moving forward with their travel programs, what factors have the biggest impacts on their policies, how they’re adjusting their policies, and what is influencing their behaviour, will [help] us to understand how to best serve them.”


The study revealed that the future of corporate travel buying behaviour will be influenced by:

  • Airline, hotel, car/ground COVID-safety protocols (37% of respondents are reviewing their hotel suppliers to ensure they are COVID-safe and 25% of respondents rate Duty of Care their number one focus as travel resumes in their business);
  • A shortened purchase window (the average purchase window for domestic travel has dropped from 7-10 days (pre-COVID) to 3-4 days post-COVID);
  • Flexible fares;
  • Avoidance of overnight requirements;
  • Virtual meetings. 


Half of customers saying they are making further changes to their policies as travel resumes. Priorities of revised policies include:

  • Health & hygiene;
  • Pre-trip approval;
  • Business Class travel approval;
  • Determining the business is essential;
  • Journey changes;
  • Adhering to COVID conduct; and
  • Using preferred and COVID-safe suppliers.
Anna Kroupina

Anna Kroupina Journalist

Anna is OJ's newest member and she joins the team as a writer/reporter. She co-writes the daily news and covers events. Although she's new to the industry, pursuing a career path in travel/tourism has been a goal since her first family road trip to the Florida Keys sparked a desire to discover the world and this exhilarating, fast-paced industry.

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