The third Bank of America global travel survey since COVID-19 sheds light on the future of MICE tourism the day after corona. How will the corporate travel segment change in 2021? Will the vaccine allow a significant rise in volume?
The third Bank of America global travel survey since the outbreak of corona was held over the last two weeks of December, with 25,000 respondents across the US, China, Japan, the UK, Germany, and France providing initial look into corporate travel expectations.
Overall, 49% of business travelers said corporate travel patterns will not drastically change, even a vaccine will be administered on a wider global scale. Furthermore, 16% said corporate travel will lose over 50% of its volume, 10% thought it will lose around 25-50%, and 11% were more optimistic (around 25% loss in volume). Also, 14% of respondents said they would travel more for work.
Survey implies 15% decline in demand for business travel
Taking into account the overall results, and indeed assuming a 10% increase among those expecting to travel more for business, the results still imply an approximate 15% decline in global business travel after the pandemic. While these are business traveler expectations, not corporate mandates, a 15% decline is fairly in line with many expectations we have heard from investors.
US: 53% see no change in business travel, or even an increase
While about two-thirds of US respondents said they travel primarily for leisure, 53% of respondents expect no change or even an increase in business travel: 36% foresee no change, less than the global average of 49%, with 17% expecting more business travel. Also, 47% of respondents expected some loss in volume from pre-corona times, mostly around 25-50%. Meanwhile, 66% of respondents their next trip will be for vacation or visiting friends/family.
Asia Pacific: Only a vaccine to allow more travel in 2021
The Asian survey shows that the COVID-19 vaccine rollout in 2021 will be game changer, particularly in Japan where 39% of respondents (highest global percentage) are unwilling to travel until vaccinated, while even in China about 20% are waiting for a vaccine before flying. The survey shows that Asian travelers are more reluctant to fly international before 2022, relative to global respondents, thus implying the risk of permanent disruption to business travel in both countries.
Europe: Two-thirds expect to travel for leisure by summer 2021
EU airlines are probably looking forward to the recovery of leisure travel, as 74% of respondents in Europe (France, UK and Germany) said they plan to go on vacation or visit friends/family. Also worth mentioning that 65% of European respondents expect to take their next leisure trip before September 2021, with only 24% in 2022 or later. As for business travel, 52% expect to see no change in their travel patterns (higher than the global average of 49%) while 35% expect to travel less. In December 2020, only 15% of respondents had been on a plane since the outbreak of corona.