A number of interesting data points that came out of this Survey, but I think the most critical one to note is that 1/3 of respondents said they did not trust the self-regulated safety standards established by airlines, yet 42% said it would be enough to get them to fly again—Chris Lopinto
NEW YORK (PRWEB) October 16, 2020
As millions remain unemployed and dozens of COVID “hot spots” continue to pop up around the world, governments continue to enforce strict mandates and restrictions for businesses, especially those in the travel and hospitality industries. Business travelers are the lifeblood of these industries and with business travel on pause, the dominoes are beginning to fall, and for many, it all begins with the airline industry.
ExpertFlyer.com, an online air travel information tool recently acquired by Red Ventures, conducted a survey among 1,300* of its subscribers to determine how travel bans have impacted their business, how they are adjusting, and if alternative solutions to conducting business, such as virtual conferencing, are enough to survive.
The survey covered a variety of topics, including:
1. Travelers’ trust in airlines and hotels to self-impose and regulate effective safety measures
2. The impact travel bans are having on job performance
3. Views on effective use of remote communication tools versus in-person meetings
4. Work/life balance without business travel
5. The airline industry’s impact on the overall economy
ExpertFlyer asked several travel industry experts to weigh-in on the results of the survey and provide some commentary on the future of business travel. The panel of experts included Consumer Reports Aviation Adviser, William J. McGee; Jason Wynn, Chief Commercial Officer, Upside Business Travel; Chris Lopinto, Founder, ExpertFlyer.com; and Patrick Fragale, Executive Vice President at Valerie Wilson Travel, who shared his insight during a recent podcast with ExpertFlyer.
"Small businesses are the lifeblood of the American economy, and they are being hit hard by this pandemic, particularly by the lack of travel,” said Jason Wynn, Chief Commercial Officer at Upside Business Travel. “There is a hunger to get back to business and that means getting back on the road, but there’s a catch. 81% of business travelers anticipate traveling in 2021, but 82% of business travelers won’t feel confident traveling until there is some form of a vaccine, even if imperfect.”
“You have to be careful about some of the statements that organizations are putting out there, like 'Every airline in the United States has HEPA filters,'” explains William J. McGee, Aviation Adviser at Consumer Reports. “While it may be true that every airline in the United States has aircraft with HEPA filters, not every aircraft operating on behalf of those airlines has them.”
Among the key survey highlights:
- A combined 62% said they do not trust self-regulated safety measures being implemented by airlines or hotels
- 49% said it would take a vaccine and/or a vaccine with contact tracing (even if imperfect) to start flying again. Another 31% said a proven vaccine would be needed to fly again
- 45% said travel restrictions have drastically impacted business
- 57% said that Zoom, Teams, and other remote communication tools have been good short-term solutions, but in-person meetings will need to happen again soon
- 43% said they would like to receive a monthly stipend to help cover additional costs associated with working from home (Utilities, Internet, etc.)
- 57% said the success of the airline industry is critical to an economic recovery
The survey also revealed mixed emotions about working remotely, and the eventual need for in-person communications. Approximately 57% said that remote communications tools such as Zoom and Teams were good short-term solutions, but face-to-face meetings will need to happen soon. However, the survey also showed that 37% want their respective companies to invest more in work-from-home software tools, suggesting that employees are content with working from home, at least in the short term.
“While many agree that video conferencing has been a great short-term solution for a lack of face-to-face meetings or onsite functions, the majority of respondents feel it won’t replace the value of in-person meetings and gatherings,” said Chris Lopinto, Founder of ExpertFlyer.com. “Many feel that returning to face-to-face engagement will be essential to long-term success, and even survival of their jobs, so once again we get the sense that business travelers (and businesses in general) are growing a bit anxious and impatient to get back in the air.”
Patrick Fragale, Executive Vice President at Valerie Wilson Travel concurs. “Our clients are stating that virtual meetings are okay for the short term but unanimously feel that nothing can take the place of in-person relationships and look forward to traveling.”
As an executive of a large travel company, Mr. Fragale also had the inside track on what corporate clients are thinking, and what the airlines are doing to secure a larger customer base and protect them. “Most of our corporate clients are currently allowing essential domestic travel and expect to expand that during the fourth quarter of 2020, continuing to scale upward in 2021,” Fragale said. “Air travel is key to the continued success of most business and leisure opportunities. Legacy airlines, such as Delta, American and United have certainly continued to demonstrate their desire to do whatever is in their power to prevail and improve the airline experience so that travelers feel safe.”
About William J. McGee
William J. McGee is the Aviation and Travel Adviser for Consumer Reports Advocacy, and the former editor of Consumer Reports Travel Letter. In 2010, the U.S. Secretary of Transportation chose him as the lone consumer advocate on the Future of Aviation Advisory Committee, and he is regularly called upon to testify before the U.S. Congress and federal agencies as an expert witness on airline safety, aviation security, and consumer protection issues. Prior to becoming a journalist, McGee spent nearly seven years in airline flight operations management and is an FAA-licensed aircraft dispatcher. He is the author of the books Attention All Passengers and Half the Child.
About Upside Business Travel
Upside was created by veteran travel entrepreneurs to transform the world of corporate travel with new tools and new thinking. Upside's flagship product uses state-of-the-art technology to operate a corporate travel solution that makes it possible for smaller companies to benefit from travel management with a no-fee, no contract all-digital booking experience and high quality 24/7 customer service. The company's employees have rated the company culture so highly that Upside has received awards from The Washington Post, Glassdoor and Entrepreneur Magazine. Upside is headquartered in Washington, D.C., with offices in Stamford, Connecticut.
About Valerie Wilson Travel
Valerie Wilson Travel, headquartered in New York, NY, was founded by Valerie Ann Wilson, Founder, CEO & Owner, in 1981, and managed along with her two daughters, Co-Presidents & Owners Jennifer Wilson-Buttigieg and Kimberly Wilson Wetty, as well as CFO & Owner, Brian Buttigieg. VWT is an award-winning travel management firm that has grown into an industry leader with offices across the United States servicing Corporate, Leisure, and Meetings, Incentives & Fulfillment clients. All VWT locations are proud members of Virtuoso® - the travel industry's leading luxury network. The agency is nationally certified as a Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE) and has been consistently named on the annual Travel Weekly Power List as well as Travel + Leisure's A-List.
ExpertFlyer.com delivers a 24/7 real time powerful air travel information service and provides subscribers and corporate travel managers alike with a complete, concise and efficient way to access the ever-changing details of worldwide air travel information. Stuck in the middle seat again? Download the free Seat Alerts app from ExpertFlyer and get the window or aisle seat without hassle or frustration.
*A total of 1,337 ExpertFlyer subscribers participated in the survey
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