A grim future for business travel
Coronavirus lockdowns and the grand work-from-home experiment killed the business travel industry — and, just like everything else, it's not going back to normal anytime soon, if at all.
Why it matters:
Traveling for work is a $1.5 trillion industry that encompasses transportation, hospitality and much more, and this moratorium is threatening countless firms and jobs.
- "There is no doubt that COVID-19 has a devastating impact on global business travel, with business travel almost grounding to a halt overnight," says Dave Hilfman, executive director of the Global Business Travel Association, a trade group with around 9,000 members, including many airlines, hotels, ride-sharing and rental car companies.
- Since March, the industry has lost around $518 billion, the group estimates.
And if all the management consultants, techies, campaign workers and journalists have shown that they can handle travel-heavy jobs from home, doing away with business trips could be a huge way for firms to cut costs in the post-pandemic world.
By the numbers:
American professionals took more than 464 million business trips in 2019.
- Business travelers make up around 10% of airline passengers across the major global carriers, but they account for 55%-75% of revenue, because they're typically more willing to spend big on last-minute tickets or book premium seats, reports the New York Times' Jane Levere.
- Experts tell the Times that business flights won't be back to normal for a few years or longer.
- People traveling for work make up a big share of hotel occupants, too. Hotel occupancy in the U.S. — which stood at 65% in February — dropped to a low of 22% in April and rose to around 46% as of the beginning of July, according to STR, a hospitality industry market research firm.
- McKinsey projects it'll take until at least 2023 for hotel occupancy to return to pre-pandemic levels.