Accor survey shows business travel set to recover within 6 months

New research from Accor reveals a third of corporate travel managers across Northern Europe, which included the UK, believe their business travel programmes will recover within six months, driven primarily by domestic travel with a longer return to travel anticipated expected from international travellers.

The hospitality industry will be buoyed by the news that just 7% of corporates believe it will take longer than 12 months for their business travel programmes to get back on track, with 21% predicting it will take less than three months.

In further positive news, when it comes to reservations, just 15% of corporates are planning to change the categories of hotel they book in future.

Despite recent events, the most important criteria for corporates when selecting their preferred hotel supplier remains location (38%) followed by price (25%). While these traditional considerations for choosing a hotel provider have not changed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, traveller welfare is an increasing priority.

Over a fifth (22%) of those buying business travel ranked additional sanitary measures and COVID-19 protection as their top priority. This insight emphasises the importance of hotels educating corporate customers on the measures they have put in place to tackle COVID-19, especially as there is no uniform standard across the industry.

Buyers will be seeking reassurance on COVID-19 countermeasures taken by hotel providers in all areas including public spaces, bedrooms and meeting and event facilities. One in eight (13 per cent) corporates explicitly state traveller welfare will be their top priority when selecting a preferred supplier in future.

The vast majority (89 per cent) of corporates believe their organisation will need to have an increased focus on duty of care as a result of the recent crisis, with 66 per cent saying the pandemic will lead to a stricter approvals process for signing off travel requests.

Jonathan Pettifer, Director of Corporate Sales and TMC Partners at Accor UK & Ireland, said, “The hotel industry will be gratified to hear that corporates believe their business travel programmes will recover within 12 months, with many anticipating it will happen much quicker.

'Face to face interactions with clients and business partners are vital in many industries and we know there is significant pent up demand from corporates wanting to get their executives back engaging directly with key contacts. To support this process, it is vital the hospitality industry follows through on its commitment to safeguard traveller safety.'

Pettifer, continued, “The business travel community is understandably looking for reassurance, which is why Accor launched ALLSAFE a global cleanliness and prevention label in partnership with Bureau Veritas a world leader in testing, inspection and certification.

'ALLSAFE demands incredibly rigorous hygiene measures are implemented, with each hotel participating in the scheme subject to independent audit. In addition, guests across the 5,000 Accor hotels worldwide can now access free telemedicine consultations, via the expert medical solutions of AXA Partners.”

Accor’s research did highlight that COVID-19 has disrupted the contract tendering process for business travel, events and meeting services, with almost a quarter (23%) of those surveyed saying they had no request for proposal (RFP) planned for 2021 and would seek to extend 2020 rates complemented by Dynamic pricing to achieve best value.

A further one in nine (11%) buyers plan to only review their top destinations via an RFP and extend most of their current rates into 2021. In addition, many buyers are planning to amend their RFP timing or process, with only one in five (21%) expecting to run a full RFP or RFI as previously planned.