Back to Business…travel

Back to Business…travel

As the world opens up again, it’s back to business, even if it’s unusual.  Based on the data provided by Wesgro Research Unit, the latest NightsBridge online booking statistics for South Africa indicate that accommodation booking trends reveal that the biggest corporate client reflected an increase of 142.2% for February 2022, when compared to February 2021, indicating strong prospects for recovery in business travel. By region, the highest volume of outbound business trips are anticipated to originate from Western Europe (56.7 million) and Asia Pacific (56.1 million).  

Morne du Preez, CEO of Tourvest Travel Services agrees. “Travel and tourism has always bounced back from adversity and so too is the expected recovery from the knock taken over the last two years.  From a travel and tourism perspective, we continue to see corporate clients return to their offices – even if only in a staggered approach – and therefore expect an increase in both domestic and international travel. After the November hiccup we all faced, there was an almost immediate return and increase to international bookings which is certainly a reflection of how quickly things can change. Should this continue to increase, we anticipate corporate and government travel to reach almost 70 to 80 % of 2019 numbers by the end of 2022.”

LIFT airline, which introduced its Premium offering – equivalent to business class – last year, has also seen a pick up in domestic travel – which see’s a blend of business and leisure travellers. “The way people travel has changed. Our stats show an  increase in joint business and leisure travel, also known as bleisure travel,” says Jonathan Ayache , co-founder and CEO of LIFT airline. The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) expects international business travel spending to surge in 2022 and possibly double by 2024.

What the business traveller wants 

Business and leisure travellers have different wants, needs and travel patterns. Business travellers are generally very busy while in transit and need the space to work, while away from the office or home. They require comfort and to have everything else covered because there is no time to deal with flight delays or booking changes. “Despite the impact of the 4th wave and global travel restrictions, December was the best month for LIFT since our launch. We operated almost 3000  flights, moved ±45k people with 96% on-time performance,” says Ayache. 

Business travellers will want to add an element of fun to really make the most of the destinations they visit. Employers are likely to agree, as they offer these trips as a perk, accommodating ‘workation’ requests to attract and keep the right talent, adds Ayache. According to Tourvest, they have seen a definite increase in leisure travel too, where several people use the “remote working” opportunity to work from any destination. “Those of us in the travel industry need to adapt to cater for these post pandemic business travellers. It’s one of the reasons why we allow flight changes free of charge up to 24hrs prior to flying,” adds Ayache. 

While travellers and airlines adapt to the changing conditions around travel, one thing is for sure, says du Preez,” people want to meet, interact and transact on a face to face basis.  The more countries open-up to travellers, and relax the Covid travel requirements, the more faith and certainty people will have in the travel system.”
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