Only 3 percent of regular business travelers are totally unwilling to travel in the current coronavirus-afflicted environment, according to a survey from Copenhagen-based travel management consortium TravelpoolEurope. A survey conducted this month of 233 respondents among 35 TPE member companies found 67 percent definitely are willing to travel, while the remaining 30 percent said doing so would depend on circumstances.
Average annual travel spend per TPE member company ranges from €500,000 to €13 million.
One key determinant of willingness to travel is the destination. About 80 percent of survey respondents said they are prepared for short-haul travel, while only 43 percent would be happy to travel long-haul. "We expect most travel in the first phase of resumption to be within the European Union, which accounts for 87 percent of our reservations," said TPE managing director Søren Schødt.
Mode of transport is another factor, with 66 percent of respondents indicating a willingness to fly and 60 percent willing to journey by train. In terms of car travel, 64 percent are prepared to use their own vehicle, with 54 percent ready to use a rental car and 52 percent a taxi.
The survey also reveals major pent-up demand for corporate travel and the vital role it plays in business continuity. About 42 percent of respondents indicated they believe they cannot accomplish their work unless they travel within the next three months, with another 31 percent setting that window within four to six months at the latest.
"This tells us there is an urgent need for a very significant number of people to travel again, and that a proportion of business travel will resume quite fast," said Schødt. "A lot of them are probably salespeople, but companies also need to go and see existing clients if, for example, they are consultants or service technicians. It's difficult to provide these services if you're not on the road.
"The focus is shifting towards letting employees travel if it's necessary and, if the infrastructure is there, to serve them in terms of air capacity and hotel availability," Schødt continued. "Some of our member companies have lifted their blanket travel bans but are insisting instead on pre-trip approval."
Covid-19 certifications and quarantines are providing some of the biggest barriers to travel resumption. The survey found that 91 percent of respondent travelers are willing to be tested so that they can enter countries that require a negative-test certificate. Another 4 percent have already had a test, while 5 percent are unwilling to submit to one.
With 800,000 out of the country's total of 2.7 million jobs linked to exports, Denmark has introduced measures to help its citizens resume business travel. Anyone leaving on a foreign business trip can request a test for coronavirus, with results available within 30 hours. On return from abroad, business travelers can take another test so they may return to their office without isolating for the standard quarantine period of 14 days.