CAPA Live: Companies must act now to evolve meeting and travel protocols

22 July, 2021

Successfully adapting to the changing environment will be essential in supporting the momentum of the recovery phase for travel and hospitality industry businesses and the travellers that use them. Now is the all important time to take action.

Collinson president Asia Pacific, Todd Handcock, said at the Jul-2021 edition of CAPA Live that "companies really need to start acting now to evolve existing meeting and travel protocols". Mr Handcock said updating protocols will help ensure travellers feel "protected and comfortable" and will help meet upcoming ISO Travel Risk Standard duty of care requirements.

The outlook for the travel and tourism industry certainly looks more favourable right now and Mr Handcock support the view that global herd immunity against COVID-19 "is going to be a key driver to getting us normality" but that testing and digital health passports will also be key in restoring travel.

"Testing is going to remain vital for safe resumption of travel for potentially up to the next two to three years" and will remain necessary until vaccination rates reach 70% to 75% in key markets. "Standardised digital health passports will prove to be key" in restoring international travel, he believes. "Governments just won't reopen borders without trusted, verifiable proof of vaccination," he added.

Mr Handcock's views were expressed as traveller experiences and medical assistance specialist Collinson revealed new research that pinpoints some key potential issues for the resumption of global travel based on an in-depth survey of travel industry experts.

The Travel Recovery Report survey was carried out in Apr-2021 by Collinson in partnership with CAPA - Centre for Aviation to capture a snapshot of the opinions of a specially-selected group of over 330 C-Suite and senior managerial level travel experts globally from leading travel industry brands. The responses were secured during CAPA's virtual monthly event series, CAPA Live, and covered respondents spread over 64 different locations.

As CTC - Corporate Travel Community highlighted last week (see 'One third of travel industry experts in Asia Pacific expect travel to resume to pre-COVID levels after 2023. Can the industry survive the wait?'), most travel experts in Asia Pacific surveyed overwhelmingly believed that it is now safe to travel - with 11% saying it is "extremely safe" and 30% saying it is "quite safe", with a further 48% saying it is "extremely safe provided preventative solutions are adhered to". However, over half (56%) are "very concerned" at reports of fraudulent COVID-19 test results and vaccination passports.

Global herd immunity will certainly be a key driver of the return to normality; and yet, because of public resistance to the vaccine in certain locations, coupled with vaccine inequality - this will take a considerably long time.

Overall, respondents to the Collinson survey expect a delay in the resumption of "normal" worldwide aviation/travel activity (2019 levels of activity). One-third of respondents expect a full global recovery by the end of 2022, 35% believe a full global recovery will occur in 2023, 24% said 2024, while 8% believe the full recovery will not come until 2025 or later.

It is recognised that some segments of the market will do better than others. Short-haul will recover faster than long-haul and leisure plus visiting Friends & Family (VFR) should outperform business and corporate travel. Focusing on next year, 2022, the outlook for business and corporate travel markets is obviously weaker than leisure and VFR, but it will mirror the trend with short-haul recovering faster than long-haul.

Around a third ( 34%) of survey respondents expected a 41-60% recovery of short-haul business travel in 2022; 28% see a greater 61-80% of 2019 levels next year; 20% see 20-40% of 2019 levels; 11% see 80%+ of 2019; while at the other end of the spectrum, 9% see less than 20% of 2019 levels next year.

The outlook for long-haul business and corporate travel markets is even weaker for 2022. According to 82% of respondents, less than 60% of the long-haul business and corporate travel market will be back next year. Of the remainder, 14% expect to see 61-80% of 2019 levels next year, while 4% expect to see 81%+ of 2019 levels next year.