Resuming Business Travel: APAC Travel Trends

A recent study by Sabre revealed 6 key trends for the travel industry in APAC. Here’s our take on how these trends will affect your organisation and business travellers, and how you can resume business travel amidst COVID-19.

#1: 45% of respondents expect to travel within the next 6 months – with millennials looking to travel first

As the world moves towards the recovery phase, millennials have indicated that they would be the keenest to resume travelling within the next 6 months.

This means that that organisations looking to restart business travel can already begin to spearhead conversations with employees to gather sentiments on traveller confidence.

“To help rebuild confidence, our team at PriceBreaker Corporate can hold webinars on behalf of corporations to prepare employees for the various health and safety protocols that have been implemented across the entire travel ecosystem,” says Jolie Ye, Vice President of PriceBreaker Corporate.

With Singapore planning green lane arrangements with more countries such as Japan, Australia and South Korea, organisations looking to resume business travel can also begin to forecast 2021 travel budgets and make revisions to current travel policies.


#2: Travellers will be swayed by relaxed safety protocols

According to the study, 41% of travellers who have no plans to travel soon said they would be swayed by a relaxation of safety measures – such as the removal of 14-day quarantines.

This means that employees will not be willing to travel to certain destinations if it sets them back by a significant amount of time.

35% stated they would consider the destination country government’s management of the pandemic, and 14% would look at the access to and quality of medical and healthcare systems at the destination.

Overall, organisations should select nearby destinations that are safe and feasible at the same time, such as China and Malaysia which have existing fast lane arrangements with Singapore for business travellers.

Japan, which is in the midst of finalising its green lane arrangement with Singapore, could also be another viable option for business travellers looking to hit the road again within the next quarter.


#3: More than a third of travellers (74%) are expected to opt for short-haul or domestic travel

While travellers in APAC remain cautious, more than a third of respondents that are keen to travel within the next 6 months have also indicated that they would prefer short-haul or domestic travel.

This trend was prevalent in Vietnam, which had resumed domestic flights since June following its initial success in containing COVID-19.

Despite the resurgence of the virus in some parts of the country, demand for domestic travel remains steady.

“Since the resumption of domestic travel in Vietnam, there has been a flurry of business trips and meetings. This shows that face-to-face meetings are still vital to many businesses,” says Jolie, who is currently based in Ho Chi Minh City.

“For organisations looking to restart business travel, meetings and incentive trips, it would be more realistic to consider nearby destinations over the next year or so.”

Organisations that prefer to avoid travelling in the meantime could also consider holding hybrid events with a mix of on-site elements and virtual conferencing.


#4: 68% expect to book their trips via agents in future to save the hassle of pre-trip research

Erratic changes in travel amidst COVID-19 has made it even more challenging for travellers to self-book.

“Many clients have shared that they prefer a Travel Management Company (TMC) to handle their trips when business travel restarts, especially since many airlines have slashed their flight routes and availability.”

“With access to flight data, a full-fledged TMC like PriceBreaker Corporate will be able to help you make optimal choices for your travel plans – helping you to save time and resources on booking.”


#5: Travellers perceive air travel to be the riskiest mode of transport

Although travellers perceive air travel to be the riskiest mode of transport, more than half (52%) said they would still travel via air, provided that certain safety measures were put in place.

This means that employees will prefer to fly direct routes with reputable airlines when business travel resumes.

Employees may also prefer alternative modes of travel such as rail and cars, when covering shorter distances.

With long-standing ties with all major airlines, as well as other travel and transportation service providers, PriceBreaker Corporate can provide comprehensive plans combining air travel with other safe, alternative modes of transport.


#6: Higher confidence in international branded hotel chains

64% of respondents whose preferred type of stay before COVID-19 were homestays, boutique hotels, motels or other forms of accommodation, now prefer staying in international branded chain hotels.

Branded chain hotels are assurances of enhanced sanitation as well as the use of new cleaning technologies.

For travel managers, this means that the careful selection of vendors with stringent safety measures and sanitation standards will be essential when planning to restart business travel.

As one of Singapore’s most established TMCs, PriceBreaker Corporate regularly keeps in touch with hotel vendors on health, safety and sanitation measures.

“We will be able to provide your organisation with a catalogue of properties from trusted vendors that have been carefully screened, such as Hyatt, Accor Hotels and Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts,” says Jolie.

With new challenges created by the pandemic, it is imperative that you work with a TMC that has genuine expertise and strong supplier relations in order to continue forging ahead.

Speak to us today and let us help you navigate the new normal with a travel programme tailored to your business needs.


Read more: Should organisations resume business travel in 2020?