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Business travel trends – October

Posted: 20 November 2020
Travel Manager Uses Business Travel Trend Data

How to use Egencia’s trends data

Businesses have many travel-related decisions to make as the dynamic conditions of COVID-19 evolve around the globe. Egencia’s mission is to help you make informed decisions using business travel trends tracker.

What you see below is real data reflecting business travel around the world. It has been extracted from our systems, anonymised and aggregated so that larger trends are visible while protecting customer information. It reflects bookings that have already been placed. We will update this data as the global economy and business travel environment continue to move forward.


In some cases, definitions matter. For instance, in the industry-level data we show industries “travelling” versus industries “preparing to travel.” The distinction refers to how companies in a given industry are using our systems. A company “travelling” is placing bookings. A company “preparing to travel” is altering travel policies within our tools to reflect new strategies, but not yet booking. Consequently, companies preparing to travel eventually become companies booking travel.

We encourage travel managers to use this data to lead discussions and advise senior management on business decisions involving the return to business travel. You can do so with confidence, supported by data. The aggregated data is below for your further analysis.

5 key takeaways from this round of data

  1. Nations that locked down early are returning to travel first. In the country-level chart “Which countries are recovering,” note the prevalence of India, China and Western Europe in the international travel category and across the board. Against that broader trend, some divergence is worth noting. Sweden ranks highly in domestic travel, though much lower in international travel. This contrast is likely influenced by Sweden’s approach to dealing with the virus, avoiding broad lockdowns, though that approach raised concerns in other nations. The US does not rank in international travel, but is showing enough domestic travel to maintain a position in global rankings.
  2. Travel is up across industries with Manufacturing and Business Services returning to travel faster than other segments. Readers should note that these are broad categories as we have constructed them. They include companies that make physical products or install systems, and others that make things happen in business such as consultants of varying kinds. These categories might also house different types of potentially pent-up demand for essential travel, such as factory engineers, IT consultants installing systems, lawyers and advisors doing deals and other activity that might have been curtailed earlier in 2020. In a similar fashion, data shows the software industry leading the way in getting ready to travel. This could potentially be related to that wave of manufacturing and business services activity.
  3. Major cities are primary destinations. Not surprisingly, big cities are clusters of economic activity that can extend out into suburban areas. Large city airports can be key destinations for many industries. The data shows little activity at small airports which likely correlates with a low booking rate among low-cost carriers. In addition to being larger magnets in general, it is possible big airports are more perceived to be COVID-19 prepared than smaller terminals.
  4. Travellers are booking smaller properties for lodging more frequently than previously. Travellers are booking bed-and-breakfast or apartment-style lodgings versus large hotels at a higher rate than anticipated – especially in Europe. While hotels still attract the majority of bookings globally, some portion of travellers are seeking smaller, more private lodgings that are less likely to attract concentrations of people.
  5. Length of stay and days purchased in advance of travel are both trending downward. This raises the possibility that business travel is beginning to demonstrate a normalisation trend. In simple terms, travellers go somewhere, do the appointed job and return home – essentially what they did prior to COVID-19. If this continues, confirming the trend, it stands in contrast to other observations about the larger travel industry that indicate longer-term bookings made well in advance – such as people planning dream trips after lockdowns or finding exotic places from which to work remotely.

Observations and issues to watch

Business travel is growing, albeit off a small base. Since this is the first of our reports on trends in our data, we will watch for any changes in the trajectory of business travel off this baseline. Even a steady, deliberate rise has implications for the global economy as well as strategic discussions in boardrooms. As noted above, advance purchases and days of stay are also metrics worth tracking to assess the normalisation of business travel.

This data set strongly suggests that traveller flexibility is important to restarting and sustaining business travel. Policies might well need updating to create the flexibility, such as allowing bed and breakfast bookings vs large hotels, while still maintaining compliance.

Travel managers need to continue staying informed on the status of how individual nations home to your key destinations are dealing with COVID-19. That includes tracking public health data and related precautions.

How is the travel industry adapting? 

In addition to the business travel trend tracker, discover the travel industry leader's interview from Cyril Ranque. He shares his perspective on how the travel industry is adapting to the COVID-19 environment and driving a re-examination of established processes and assumptions. 

Check out the interview and other trends information.

Further resources and information 

The return to business travel takes the travel manager into a wide array of conversations across the enterprise. Egencia has prepared a variety of tools and information to help the travel manager lead those discussions.

Do you need a detailed set of courses providing guidance on travel management in a crisis? Join the Egencia’s Business Travel Management Academy.

Do you need general information on COVID-19 around the world? Review these resources:

Are you preparing to return to travel? Access this guide to prepare for getting your travellers back on the road while supporting business recovery. This includes:

  • Preparing for corporate travel in the new normal
  • Redesigning your travel programme
  • Updating your business travel policy
  • Stretching your travel programme budget

Have you started travelling already? Egencia’s resources and solution features include:

As the business travel recovery grows, bookmark this website to stay on top of the trends.

Looking for better business travel solutions? Get in touch with us.