Survey: Most travelers and workers want to bring back business travel

Nearly seven in 10 Americans approve of the CDC's recent move to relax mask requirements

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Nearly two-thirds of business travelers think the increased reliance on virtual work is negatively impacting both productivity and workplace culture, according to a survey from the American Hotel & Lodging Association.

TRAVELERS AS WELL as hoteliers are ready for business travel to get back to normal, according to the American Hotel & Lodging Association. Nearly two-thirds of business travelers feel that the increased reliance on virtual work during COVID-19 is negatively impacting both productivity and workplace culture.

As many as 77 percent of business travelers and 64 percent of American workers think that it is more important than ever to bring back business travel, according to a survey commissioned by the AHLA. The poll, conducted by Morning Consult among a national sample of 2,210 adults from March 8 to 9, also revealed that nearly seven in ten Americans approve the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recent move to relax mask requirements.

According to the survey, 43 percent of U.S. workers are more likely to travel for business compared to 2020-21.

“The last two years of virtual work arrangements and travel restrictions have underscored the importance of travel and face-to-face meetings for businesses, employees and customers alike. These results are proof of that,” said Chip Rogers, AHLA president and CEO. “Most Americans recognize the unmatched value business travel and face-to-face meetings provide. And after the last two years, the return of business travel is more important than ever.”

About 80 percent of employed Americans and 86 percent of business travelers say face-to-face interactions are important for maximizing company success, and the majority of those surveyed believe that in-person meetings and business travel build organizational strength in a way virtual interactions cannot, the survey said.

Other findings from the survey include:

  • 59 percent of adults and 77 percent of business travelers agree that in-person meetings and business travel foster collaboration in a way virtual interactions cannot
  • 57 percent of adults and 76 percent of business travelers agree that in-person meetings and business travel facilitate productivity in a way virtual interactions cannot
  • 56 percent of adults and 71 percent of business travelers agree COVID-19 has created a greater need for face-to-face connection that virtual-only meetings cannot satisfy
  • 46 percent of adults and 65 percent of business travelers say an increased reliance on virtual work negatively impacts workplace culture
  • 44 percent of adults and 64 percent of business travelers agree that an increased reliance on virtual work negatively impacts productivity
  • 86 percent of employed Americans and 89 percent of business travelers say face-to-face interactions are important for establishing and maintaining relationships with coworkers
  • 85 percent of employed Americans and 88 percent of business travelers say face-to-face interactions are important for establishing and maintaining relationships with clients
  • 82 percent of employed Americans and 89 percent of business travelers say face-to-face interactions are important for professional training
  • 80 percent of employed Americans and 83 percent of business travelers say face-to-face interactions are important for keeping morale high

According to AHLA’s State of the Industry report, business travel is expected to increase in 2022 compared to last year. Kalibri Labs said that business travel is projected to reach 80 percent of 2019 figures in the third quarter. Global business travel is projected to increase by 14 percent this year, though a full recovery isn’t expected until 2024.