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View Poll Results: Poll: Did business air travel peak in 2019?
Yes - business air travel is forever diminished 17 38.64%
No - business air travel will recover quickly with a vaccine is available - late '21 or '22 7 15.91%
No - but it will be at least 2023 to 2025 before it recovers to 2019 levels 8 18.18%
No - but it will be a long haul to return to 2019 levels - 5 to 10 years 8 18.18%
Unknowable and unpredictable - too many moving parts 4 9.09%
Voters: 44. You may not vote on this poll

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Poll: Business air travel
Old 12-08-2020, 02:35 PM   #1
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Poll: Business air travel

Will business travel ever return to 2019 levels? From what I hear from my former w*ork cohorts, both customers and vendors/suppliers/consultants have adapted nicely to a non-on-site-travel way of doing business.

While many of us are no longer concerned with the commercial aspects of this question anymore, it does seem that business travel helped prop up leisure travel fares. Also, the knock-on impacts on the rest of the travel industry (lodging, rental cars, restaurants, trade shows, etc.,) have got to be large. Is this not a headwind for a significant economic recovery - for the US and the world?

I look forward to your comments - especially you former (or current) road warriors out there.
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Old 12-08-2020, 02:52 PM   #2
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There are plenty of articles online saying business travel will never return to pre-pandemic levels, and I’d agree. Consumers and businesses were moving online more and more, and everyone was forced to experiment with online purchases, zoom meetings and other business collaborations and transactions - that’s just accelerated an existing trend. Businesses want to improve efficiency and reduce costs. Those that were successful when forced online aren’t going to go backwards now. There will be a recovery where it makes sense, but it won’t make sense in every pre-pandemic case, hence no return to pre-pandemic levels.
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Old 12-08-2020, 04:38 PM   #3
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IMHO - While business travelers may be slow to return , this slack will be taken up by regular folks, upgrading their travel to get out of the tight-squeezed cattle car seating.
  • It's more comfortable.
  • People have learned life is short, you could be dead next year.
  • It' cleaner and less contagious appearing.
  • People have 1 yr less to travel in remaining years.
  • People saved a year's worth of traveling money so have more to blow.
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Old 12-08-2020, 05:15 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Sunset View Post
IMHO - While business travelers may be slow to return , this slack will be taken up by regular folks, upgrading their travel to get out of the tight-squeezed cattle car seating.
  • It's more comfortable.
  • People have learned life is short, you could be dead next year.
  • It' cleaner and less contagious appearing.
  • People have 1 yr less to travel in remaining years.
  • People saved a year's worth of traveling money so have more to blow.
+1 Recently told DW that we are done riding coach going forward for all the reasons you listed.
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Old 12-08-2020, 05:41 PM   #5
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I think the pandemic has forced all companies to re-examine their business operations, technology infrastructure, etc and it's going be a while before biz travel gets back to pre-pandemic levels.

My megacorp has offices worldwide and it did a big push duing the aughts to build up remote work/online collaboration capability, not just to save on travel costs but for disaster recovery/business continuity purposes. Our travel spend has been a lot leaner ever since, even needing VP level approval.

If we're talking biz class seats, I don't see leisure travellers picking up enough of the slack as the group is generally highly cost conscience and lean more towards low cost carriers or if wantting an upgrade, possibly economy plus.
And there's going to be revenue lost from a lack of business travellers paying higher economy fares for flexible and last minute travel. For some of my work trips, it pains me to have to book some flights at prices that I'd flip out at if I'd have to pay personally.
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Old 12-08-2020, 06:40 PM   #6
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I remember business travel taking a huge hit after 9/11, and again after 2008. But it always seemed like after a few years it had returned to pre-crisis levels. I think business people really like to travel, and eventually get going again.
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Old 12-08-2020, 06:45 PM   #7
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I remember business travel taking a huge hit after 9/11, and again after 2008. But it always seemed like after a few years it had returned to pre-crisis levels. I think business people really like to travel, and eventually get going again.
We had video conferencing in several of our ARCO offices in the mid-1980's when I worked in the corporate office in Los Angeles. We still traveled for many business meetings.

I know conferencing is a bit decentralized now that Zoom and other software is available, but I still feel business travel will be necessary for many tasks that are not office related.
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Old 12-08-2020, 08:16 PM   #8
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Business people like to travel. Especially those who are married.

There seems to be a strong consensus that biz travel will never fully bounce back, so I'm betting it will.
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Old 12-08-2020, 08:31 PM   #9
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What I’m hoping will happen is that airlines will reconfigure their economy seats to make them wider with more space between passengers as people may be very reluctant to sit in such tight quarters even after this pandemic is over with. And while prices will have to increase to compensate for the reduction in space, it could make leisure travel more attractive and help to lift up the airline industry and mitigate their losses from the business travel community.
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Old 12-08-2020, 09:34 PM   #10
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Yes, I think it will be diminished for a long, long time. The last 13 years of my career I worked remotely and traveled to client locations. I think what people are finding is that a lot can be done remotely without incuring the time and cost of business travel.

I think some travel will still be needed to develop and maintain relationships, team building, sales pitches to new clients, etc.... the softer stuff... but the actual work can be done remotely just as or more efficiently.
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Old 12-08-2020, 09:38 PM   #11
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Yes, I think it will be diminished for a long, long time. The last 13 years of my career I worked remotely and traveled to client locations. I think what people are finding is that a lot can be done remotely without incuring the time and cost of business travel.
But companies have discovered this before. After 5 years they forget, and itís back to the old habits.
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Old 12-08-2020, 10:00 PM   #12
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I have no idea.

In my government agency, we had part of the annual budget that had to be spent on travel, whether it was needed or not. If people didn't travel then next year's budget would be less and for some reason that would be awful. Or, that was how it was explained to me. Changes in government are at slower-than-glacial speeds. Unless and until they can get the budget adjusted I expect there will be the same amount of money spent on travel.
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Old 12-08-2020, 11:13 PM   #13
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I hope business travelers don't come back in large numbers for decades. First/Business class fares are now 60-70% lower than pre-pandemic levels. Business travelers were notorious for grabbing those seats with points upgrades and other perks. Last minute bookings also resulted in ridiculous fares for that class of travel.
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Old 12-09-2020, 05:56 AM   #14
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I think the capper is that since business customers will be used to fewer visits from vendors, less travel saves business money. You know how they love that.
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Old 12-09-2020, 06:25 AM   #15
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I don't expect business travel to recover for quite some time. However I do not see this as a windfall for the casual flyer. The cost of operating a flight hasn't gone down and once the weaker providers sort out I can see an increase in fares$$. I believe it was the business travelers that subsidized the cheap seats the rest of us have enjoyed.
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Old 12-09-2020, 03:00 PM   #16
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The business travel boondoggle gig is up....It's been exposed....Most of it was not necessary and was a way for hyper sales folks to "stay busy" traveling.

I know....I did it for years and always thought it was a waste in most situations.....but the frequent flyer miles, hotel points, free good meals and burning two days a week "in the air" made it all worth it!

Again, the gig is up and it's been exposed for what it was/is. Don't let anyone tell you anything else...LOL
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Old 12-09-2020, 03:06 PM   #17
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Airlines will figure it out. I was reading recently that even though people are not flying as much as they used to, airlines are actually adding new long haul international flights. The reason is cargo -- passenger planes have their bellies full of it, where suitcases used to be.
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Old 12-09-2020, 03:34 PM   #18
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The business travel boondoggle gig is up....It's been exposed....Most of it was not necessary and was a way for hyper sales folks to "stay busy" traveling.

I know....I did it for years and always thought it was a waste in most situations.....but the frequent flyer miles, hotel points, free good meals and burning two days a week "in the air" made it all worth it!

Again, the gig is up and it's been exposed for what it was/is. Don't let anyone tell you anything else...LOL
I hear you brother/sister. Millions of air miles. Over 3000 nights at Hilton hotels alone. And after 5 year retired I can't tell you what that gained anyone. Other than my retirement.
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