ANA Survey Finds Business Travelers Point to June Before Packing a Travel Bag

February 16, 2021

By Duke Fanelli, CMO at the ANA

Zonicboom/Shutterstock.com

With COVID-19-related warnings and protocols top of mind, nearly a year has passed since many of us have boarded a plane. Even for those who have traveled for pleasure or business, sharing that information with friends and colleagues may still feel somewhat taboo.

With conference season now upon us, the ANA conducted an eight-question survey to determine people’s appetite for travel, whether for business or pleasure. The results, based on 1,631 responses from ANA members and nonmembers, revealed that while some respondents are ready, able, and willing to check a travel bag, the vast majority are not. And that may continue to be the case until at least mid-year.

The results confirm what the airlines already know: travel is not on a lot of itineraries. In fact, the International Air Transport Association reported that “airline carriers are expected to see a record loss of $157 billion in 2020 and 2021,” according to an article in the Hub.

The ANA survey, fielded from January 18–29, found that more than 76 percent of respondents said their companies are not permitting business travel at this time. Roughly 10 percent said their companies are allowing travel, while 14 percent said they need to obtain management approval or identify a critical client need before booking travel. (Forty-three percent of survey-takers said they approve their own domestic travel.)

Even road warriors, who are defined as traveling more than 25 times a year, said they are not anxious to travel in early 2021, as travel in January barely registered on respondents’ radars. However, as the year progresses and optimism increases, respondents said they are increasingly likely to begin traveling in June, pending company approval. Between February and May, less than 4 percent of respondents expected their companies to reinstate travel. That number, in the aggregate, increases to nearly 13 percent in June, 23 percent in July, and nearly 30 percent by August. At the same time, more than 16 percent of responders said it will be 2022 before their management allows them to head down the gangway, while more than one-third were unsure of the timing.

When asked what would make respondents comfortable enough to travel, based on four multiple-choice options, 75 percent said “being immunized” and 70 percent said “having broad distribution of the coronavirus vaccine.” Airline and hotel cleaning protocols were important, but secondary, the survey found, and some respondents noted they would only travel when there is a substantial decline in positive COVID tests.

So, while we have come a long way since March 2020, we must all do our part to ensure we continue to make steady and positive progress for the good of our society, to get businesses back on their feet and growing, and return some normalcy to our lives. As the Lenny Kravitz song reminds us: “I want to get away, I wanna fly away.”

The ANA will conduct a follow-up survey in May to determine change in business travel perspectives. At that time, vaccines will have been available about 5–6 months.


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