Will business travel return to normal with Covid vaccine?

As H&LA keeps abreast the continually changing impact of COVID-19 on the economy in general and hospitality sector in particular, we are sharing insights from industry experts and stakeholders with our clients and partners. CNBC is reporting sentiment from some top executives on when business travel will rebound with some saying it won’t likely return to pre-pandemic levels.

Published by: Eric Rosenbaum/CNBC.com
Published date: December 2020

Everyone has an opinion on the return — or looming extinction — of business travel. Do the predictions match the view from the the top executives across corporate functions, and across all sectors of the global markets, who have actually done much of the corporate jet-setting themselves in recent years?

Bill Gates says 50% of business travel will disappear.

The CEO of Southwest Airlines says it could take 10 years for business travel to bounce back, but some of his peers are more optimistic. Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian recently estimated in an interview with the Associated Press that business travel might settle into a “new normal” 10% to 20% lower than it used to be — it is down more than 80% now.

Wall Street analysts have their predictions, related to air and hotel stocks, too.

So CNBC recently asked two select groups of senior executives who manage daily business activities representing trillions in market value, and not tied directly to the airline or hotel companies, for their business travel outlook as a vaccine goes into distribution. We surveyed those who control the budgets — chief financial officers. And senior technology professionals involved in the remote work shift that has rapidly upended long-held work assumptions. Their predictions for when business travel budgets will be back to the pre-Covid-19 level includes from bad-to-worse news for a travel industry that, all in all, is accustomed to being a trillion-dollar sector itself.

Members of the CNBC Technology Executive Council say it will take years for business travel to recover, and 20% say it will never return to the level that was normal before the pandemic, according to the Q4 2020 CNBC TEC Survey. But the largest group, just under half, think it will only be two to three years before travel budgets are back to a level commensurate with the pre-Covid business world.

To read the entire article on CNBC, click here.