UK enterprise journey stays low amid pandemic

Influential factors on willingness to travel by country

With many movement restrictions lifted, many global companies are traveling more than they expected during the pandemic. However, Great Britain and Western Europe are not keeping pace with this trend, as business traffic there has yet to recover.

A new survey by global strategy consultancy Oliver Wyman found that a third of global consumers are feeling well again as the Covid-19 pandemic appears to be receding. The survey of nearly 5,300 respondents was conducted in nine countries around the world, including the US, Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK.

When taking vacation travel into account, the study found that respondents in the US and France are now the most willing to travel. Although international and domestic travel has become more common again, persistent health and safety concerns, as well as the practical complications of travel restrictions, still call for caution in some countries. As a result, other European countries, including Germany, Spain and Italy, showed significantly less interest.

However, the country where people in Europe were least reluctant to travel was undoubtedly Great Britain. A little more than 10% of the respondents stated that they feel comfortable again on flights and public transport. Only in China and Canada was this number lower.

Report co-authors Bruce Spear, Jessica Stansbury and Bruno Despujol commented, “The prospects for travel are much better but are still being made by the slow pace of vaccination in some regions, the unease about new Covid-19 variants and inconsistent government interferes with policies on travel restrictions … A quarter to a third of people still feel uncomfortable about extensive interactions with people. However, this is an improvement of almost 20% compared to October 2020, when almost half of all respondents felt uncomfortable with these activities. “

Given this optimistic outlook, business travel appears to be recovering slightly faster than vacation travel. Oliver Wyman noted that even the most cautious nations have seen a surge in business travel – to the extent that 31% of respondents travel more than expected during this phase of the pandemic.

Business travel plans and volume implications

While China is currently one of the regions that is generally the least appealing to travel, Oliver Wyman noted that business travel there has increased. According to the survey, the business travel volume rose by seven points, ahead of the USA with four points. Meanwhile, similarly cautious Australia also saw a multilevel boost in business travel.

However, the UK again expressed its reluctance to travel and business trips by UK respondents fell by three points. Interestingly, however, the UK did not have the lowest number of business trips. Oliver Wyman noted that this was France – the opposite of what the nation thought about wider travel. While this may be partly due to health and safety concerns, Oliver Wyman also claimed that these countries may have been better able to adapt to digital business during the lockdown.

The researchers added, “We believe that business travel could experience a more general decline or stabilization at a lower level than before the pandemic due to permanent changes in the way people work and company policies. Around 60 percent of respondents believe they can collaborate effectively using conference calls, while more than a third say their companies have tightened business travel guidelines. “