In-person business meetings and events will surge in 2021, according to a recent Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) poll of its members — the fourteenth of its kind since the onset of the pandemic.
“What we’re seeing in this latest poll is a number of reasons for the business travel industry to be optimistic about 2021, especially toward the middle of the year,” says GBTA’s interim executive director, Dave Hilfman. “As the vaccine rollout gains momentum and if we see a corresponding drop in positive COVID-19 test results, this survey suggests something of a return to personal connections and in-person meetings and events in the business space.”
Three of four survey respondents expect employees to attend in-person meetings and events in Q2 or Q3. Even more, 87 per cent, anticipate attending internal company meetings or events in person by Q3.
Conversely, as attendance at in-person events increases throughout the year, hybrid meetings are expected to decline.
Nearly two-thirds of GBTA members say vaccine availability is a significant factor in their company’s decision to resume business travel.
However, only 39 per cent of those surveyed say their company has already begun to plan hosting or attending meetings and events this year. Half have yet to start and one in ten are still unsure of their plans.
Of those who report their company is planning to host/attend 2021 meetings and events, more than 50 per cent are planning to host/attend small to mid-sized meetings or events with up to 500 attendees.
Other key findings are buyers and procurement professionals expect business travel spend this year to be lower than it was in 2019. When asked where travel savings would be made, comparing travel spend in 2019 to 2021, respondents estimated there would be a decline in the percentage spent on internal meetings, conferences and trade shows (regardless the amount of funds allocated for 2021 business travel), but an increase in percentage spent on sales meetings and service trips with current and prospective customers.