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77% Of Business Travelers Say Return Of Business Travel More Important Than Ever

March 21, 2022

WASHINGTON-A new survey conducted by Morning Consult on behalf of the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) finds that sentiment around business travel is shifting, with 77% of business travelers and 64% of employed Americans agreeing that it is more important than ever to bring back business travel.

Nearly two-thirds of business travelers say the increased reliance on virtual work that has become common during the pandemic is negatively impacting both productivity (64%) and workplace culture (65%).

The survey also finds nearly seven in ten Americans (69%) approve of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) recent move to relax mask requirements, with many travelers responding by making additional travel plans. Among Americans who are currently employed, 43% say they are more likely to travel for business compared to 2020-21 in response to relaxed public health requirements from the CDC and state and local governments.

The survey of 2,210 adults was conducted March 8-9, 2022. Of these, 256 people, or 12% of respondents, are business travelers—that is, those who either work in a job that typically includes work-related travel or who expect to travel for business at least once this year.

Other key findings include the following:

  • 80% of employed Americans and 86% of business travelers say face-to-face interactions are important for maximizing company success
  • 61% of adults and 74% of business travelers agree that in-person meetings and business travel build organizational strength in a way virtual interactions cannot
  • 59% of adults and 77% of business travelers agree that in-person meetings and business travel foster collaboration in a way virtual interactions cannot
  • 57% of adults and 76% of business travelers agree that in-person meetings and business travel facilitate productivity in a way virtual interactions cannot
  • 56% of adults and 71% of business travelers agree COVID-19 has created a greater need for face-to-face connection that virtual-only meetings cannot satisfy
  • 46% of adults and 65% of business travelers say an increased reliance on virtual work negatively impacts workplace culture
  • 44% of adults and 64% of business travelers agree that an increased reliance on virtual work negatively impacts productivity
  • 86% of employed Americans and 89% of business travelers say face-to-face interactions are important for establishing and maintaining relationships with coworkers
  • 85% of employed Americans and 88% of business travelers say face-to-face interactions are important for establishing and maintaining relationships with clients
  • 82% of employed Americans and 89% of business travelers say face-to-face interactions are important for professional trainings
  • 80% of employed Americans and 83% of business travelers say face-to-face interactions are important for keeping morale high

“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 AHLA President and CEO Chip Rogers. “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.”

With corporate travel policies still in flux, business and group travel, the hotel industry’s largest source of revenue, will take significantly longer to recover than leisure travel. According to AHLA’s State of the Industry report, business travel overall is expected to increase in 2022 compared to last year, and, according to an analysis by Kalibri Labs, by quarter three it is projected to reach 80% of 2019 figures. While a full recovery isn’t expected until 2024, global business travel is projected to increase by 14% in 2022.

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