Is Business Travel Poised for Early Return?

Business travel, arguably the group most affected by the coronavirus pandemic over the last 18 months, could be poised for a comeback earlier than expected.

Perhaps as early as this year.

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According to a survey conducted by Oliver Wyman Inc., growing numbers in the U.S. and a few other countries suggest people are eager to travel again for business instead of just settling for a Zoom meeting or working remotely.

In a survey of more than 900 Americans conducted in late June, the third of three surveys, three-quarters of the respondents who took four or more work-related trips in 2019 said they plan to take their next domestic flight within the next three months. Almost nine out of 10 said they expect to take at least as many business trips over the next year as they had in the year before the pandemic was declared.

In the larger global survey of almost 5,300 travelers in nine countries, there was also a dramatic shift toward an anticipation of traveling as much or more for business versus answers given to Oliver Wyman’s October survey.

In October only 11 percent of respondents said they would travel more for business over the next year; 31 percent told the June survey they planned to travel more for business in the next 12 months.

In June, 25 percent said they expected to travel less versus 43 percent answering less in October. The countries most eager to travel for business once travel restrictions are lifted were China, the U.S., and Australia.