New research from Morning Consult throws a wet blanket on a strong rebound for business travel. In its latest State of Travel and Hospitality report, the data analysis company reveals that four in 10 American business travelers (39%) say they will never go on another work trip.
Instead, companies will continue to rely on video conferences and shorter, close-to-home trips. Morning Consult data shows that one in five business trips in the next year will be day trips.
“Among those who are taking trips, there is a preference for private transportation in the short term,” wrote Lindsey Roeschke, Morning Consult’s travel and hospitality analyst. “Business travelers are more likely to use their own car for travel in the next three months, but are more open to shared transport — planes, trains and buses but also rental cars — for trips in the more distant future.”
Six in 10 business travelers (62%) said they will use their cars for work trips in the next year, compared to 46% who said they will fly.
The recovery of the business travel sector has lagged behind that of leisure travel around the world and may not ever fully recover, especially in Western Europe, where 62% and 48% of French and German business travelers, respectively, plan to stay off the road indefinitely.
Morning Consult’s findings are in line with previous industry outlooks. A national survey of business travelers conducted on behalf of the Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) last August found that 67% were planning to take fewer trips, 52% likely to cancel existing travel plans without rescheduling, and 60% planning to postpone existing travel plans.
Some big hospitality giants have been reading the writing on the wall. Four months ago, Hyatt Hotels announced that it was buying luxury resorts operator Apple Leisure Group (ALG) for $2.7 billion in cash. The acquisition comprised33,000 hotel rooms in 10 countries, making Hyatt the world’s largest operator of luxury all-inclusive resorts based on room count and the largest operator of luxury hotels in Mexico and the Caribbean.
“We’re very bullish on leisure travel. It’s proven its resiliency and durability,” said Hyatt CEO Mark Hoplamazian on an investor call in August. “Leisure travel has recovered more quickly than business travel. We’re excited about luxury in particular because we expect the global luxury travel market to grow at about 11% from 2021 to 2027.”
In keeping with many other national surveys fielded throughout the pandemic, the Morning Consult report found that Americans support vaccine mandates for air travel. Nearly two thirds of Americans (63%) support vaccines requirements when flying internationally. Nearly the same majority of Americans (60%) said vaccines should also be mandated when flying domestic.
Bad behavior from fellow air passengers is also a demotivating factor of many would-be travelers. Four out of 10 (41%) consumers say they have traveled less often due to concerns about air rage incidents, and nearly two thirds (63%) say they are at least slightly concerned about unruly passengers on their next flight; one in five (21%) are very or extremely concerned.
A majority of adults (59%) blame the offending passengers for air rage incidents, compared to 22% who blame airlines or their employees. One in ten adults (11%) blame the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) or other airport authorities.