Business trips are resuming, albeit not at their earlier pace


Global airline ticket sales show “a steady increase in the number of business travel tickets issued”.

Travelers at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta, April 19, 2022. Dustin Chambers/The New York Times

Business travel appears to be returning, albeit unevenly, but is disappearing for most of the pandemic.

Despite early predictions that Zoom meetings would supplant in-person meetings even after the coronavirus has abated, industry bodies and hospitality companies point to a significant upswing in small business meetings as well as larger conventions and trade shows in recent months. The airlines also say business traveler bookings have skyrocketed recently.

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Executives and experts say that business trips by private individuals will not return so quickly. Some employers continue to impose travel restrictions. In other cases, visitors are not allowed to enter the offices of the people they wish to see due to COVID-19 restrictions.

And reflecting the differing pace of recovery, domestic business travel has returned faster than outbound travel, and travel to and from Europe has rebounded more than bookings from Asia.

Even within the United States, the strength of business return returns depends on the destination.

In Las Vegas, the number of scheduled trade shows and events is actually higher this year than in 2019. However, attendance is expected to be only 60% to 65% of pre-pandemic levels, said Steve Hill, Las Vegas President and CEO Convention and Visitors Authority. In New York, the city’s Tourism Promotion Agency forecasts that business travel will not exceed 2019 levels by 2025.

Henry Harteveldt, travel industry analyst at Atmosphere Research, pointed to data on global airline ticket sales that “shows a steady increase in the number of business travel tickets being issued”.

But for all the positive signs that business travel is picking up again, Russia’s war in Ukraine, China’s “zero-COVID” lockdowns and the unpredictable trajectory of the pandemic threaten to prevent a widespread return to 2019 levels any time soon.

Robert Crandall, former president and chairman of American Airlines, said the war in Ukraine could have a significant impact on the global economy. “People want to feel safe,” he says. “It makes them feel less secure, which has a negative impact on travel.”

Harteveldt was more optimistic about business travel prospects. “If the economies of developed countries remain strong and the war in Ukraine does not spread, the business travel industry will have a good autumn and winter,” he said, “and 2023 will be a good, possibly great year for that.” ”

This article originally appeared in The New York Times. Business trips are resuming, albeit not at their earlier pace

Rick Schindler

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