Quarantine measures, social distancing and cleanliness are the biggest worries for business travellers

4 June, 2020

A recent survey of business travellers has put the implementation of quarantine measures right at the top of issues of biggest concern. Quarantine measures and social distancing were registered by 67% of respondents as the biggest problems facing their return to travel, followed by cleanliness of the travel environment.

The survey was conducted by BCD Travel of 1260 business travellers between 4-11-May-2020. Unsurprisingly, Covid-19 has seriously impacted business travel with 76% of the business traveller teams reporting that all travel had been suspended. Some 23% of respondents said that only essential travel had continued, although of those trips 67% had been cancelled or postponed, 30% shifted to virtual meetings and only 3% actually went ahead.

CHART - The top three traveller worries around future travel relate to quarantine measures after travel, social distancing and cleanliness of their environment during tripsSource: BCD Travel

The top rated measure that airports and airlines can take to help business travellers feel safer was the frequent and enhanced cleaning of the airport and aircraft cabin. Nine out of 10 respondents agreed that this was the most important aspect in helping them get back into the air.

The next rated was enhanced boarding procedures to ensure social distance, and then having an empty seat beside them. Other measures scoring highly were mandatory wearing of face masks, rapid Covid-19 tests for passengers, temperature checks, contactless check-in, bag drop and biometric checkpoints, and enhanced packaging of food on board.

CHART - Among the measures that can be implemented by airports and airlines, frequent enhanced disinfection was rated extremely or very important by 9 in 10. This was followed by new boarding procedures and empty seats on aeroplanes to accommodate social distancingSource: BCD Travel

When it comes to hotels, the survey revealed that enhanced cleaning was by far the most required measure, followed by online check-in and digital room keys, and the compulsory wearing of face masks by all guests and hotel staff. Interestingly, social distancing measures only came in as fifth most important, equal with the taking of temperatures of guests as they arrive.

The survey asked the business traveller teams what regulatory measures they would most like to see implemented and 67% responded that the use of contactless payments was of top importance, followed by infrared cameras to identify passengers with high temperatures (58%), despite many questioning whether this would is enough to safeguard against people travelling with Covid-19.

CHART - When evaluating measures taken by hotels, enhanced cleaning was most important, followed by online check-in and digital key, and mandatory wearing of masksSource: BCD Travel

“When travel bans are lifted and health organisations withdraw their travel warnings, corporations will need to step in and assure travellers of their safety,” says Mike Janssen, global chief operating officer and chief commercial officer for BCD Travel.

“Although companies will take a fresh look at virtual collaboration strategies, travel will continue to be a critical component to achieve company goals. For instance, to inspect production lines and raw materials, to teach and learn, to foster client relationships and make deals,” he adds.

This recent survey followed up an earlier BCD Travel survey taken in early Apr-2020 when two thirds of the business traveller teams surveyed reported they were prepared for the disruption brought about by the pandemic, with just 13% saying they were not ready.

In the earlier survey in Apr-2020, 41% of business travel teams reported that all business travel had been suspended and the remainder only taking place when essential. However, the respondents were already fairly certain that virtual meetings will continue even once the threat of Covid-19 has passed.

Some 78% considered the frequency of virtual internal meetings will happen more often with 57% believing virtual external meetings will also increase. While just under half of the respondents believed the frequency of virtual conferences will go up.

Responding to the survey back in Apr-2020, the business travel teams seemed quietly optimistic that business travel will return to some degree later in 2020, with 40% confident that would happen in the second quarter, while 41% felt that it’s more likely in the third quarter. As to whether business travel will return to pre-Covid-19 levels, some 62% believed it would return by the end of 2020, while 25% thought that was more likely not to happen until the end of 2021.

Two months on from this earlier survey and it would be interesting to know if those 62% of the BCD survey respondents still believe business travel will return to 2019 levels before the end of 2020. It is hoped that any quarantine requirements will be short lived although one thing is for sure, virtual meetings are on the rise and unlikely to go away anytime soon.