Business travelers are itching to travel again for work and life, but most remain concerned at the same time about contracting COVID-19 and favor extra precautions, according to a new global survey from Chubb.
Chubb’s conclusions are based on a 2,100-person survey involving business travelers in North America, Europe, Asia Pacific and Latin America.
Larges majorities of business travelers truly appear ready to get moving again.
Nearly 85 percent of respondents said they are eager for the pandemic to be over so they can travel again. About 80 percent said they miss business travel, with similar numbers agreeing in the United States, Europe, Asia Pacific and Latin America.
Struggles Working From Home
Underscoring their eagerness, 74 percent of business travelers said pandemic restrictions have made their jobs less effective, and 76 percent said COVID-19 has harmed their ability to maintain relationships with clients and/or business partners. Just under 75 percent said the pandemic has reduced how effectively they can serve their clients, and also put a damper on their ability to develop new business or sales.
The survey also offered an indictment of sorts on the virtual meetings companies have relied on during the pandemic. More than 80 percent of respondents agreed at varying levels that they missed something when they could not see body language or other visual clues a person can get from in-person meetings.
With that said, there are smaller majorities that want to travel right now. About 57 percent of respondents globally said they were comfortable during the COVID pandemic flying domestically or internationally. Just over half said they’d stay in a hotel, and just under half would only fly domestically.
A little less than 40 percent would be willing to eat indoors at a restaurant, with the same percentage being willing to fly a car. About 31 percent would fly internationally only, and 30 percent would take a taxi or rideshare service. Just 23 percent would take a train, subway or bus.
Many business travelers traditionally attend large meetings or conferences, but just 12 percent said they’d be willing to attend a function or event with more than 100 people.
About 20 percent said they would not do any travel activity.
Travel Desires Versus COVID-19 Concerns
While business travelers want to resume travel, most remain concerned about COVID health risks and travel challenges, the Chubb survey found.
Approximately 81 percent said the pandemic will make them pay more attention to what travel insurance they have before their trips. Also, 86 percent of respondents said they broadly agreed that travel insurance would make them more comfortable when traveling for business and leisure.
Interestingly, 75 percent of business travelers said they’d be willing to pay more to keep the middle airplane seat open – something experts believe can reduce the risk of COVID-19. About 77 percent said flying has been safe if protocols are followed such as wearing a mask.
Approximately 68 percent of business travelers said they were more comfortable traveling for business than leisure, because their livelihood depended on it.
For business travelers who like to travel, they also clearly see change ahead. About 82 percent said they expect the pandemic to have a lasting impact on business travel, and nearly 70 percent said they expect their employers to try to reduce business travel in the future to save money.
The full survey is “Time to Fly: The Impact of Covid-19 on the Present and Future of Business Travel.”