Covid-19 adversely impacted domestic corporate travel in India: Survey

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on November 19, 2020

Employee health concerns, reduced business activity, and limited flight options were behind travel restrictions in most respondent companies, the study said

Ninety-two per cent of businesses said corporate travel was adversely impacted by Covid-19, according to a survey by EY and ICF.

The survey intended to understand how corporates and domestic corporate travel have been impacted due to Covid-19. This study also aimed to record the expectations of the C-suite regarding the recovery of domestic business travel over the next two years.

A combination of employee health concerns, reduced business activity, and limited flight options have led to corporate travel restrictions in most respondent companies.

It is consistently believed that these restrictions will remain in place for the remainder of 2020, but corporate travel is expected to resume domestically to some extent in 2021, the survey report added.

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Future of corporate travel

The report highlighted that 45 per cent of businesses believe that the restrictions on business travel will be removed within the next 12 months, and employees will be willing to take business trips.

However, a large share (39 per cent) of business executives are of the view that travel will only resume once vaccines are available in the market and their employees have access to it.

Despite gradual recovery in business activity, over three-fourth of the survey participants anticipate longer-term changes in company travel policies, with limited corporate traveling.

It was acknowledged (by 76 per cent of respondents) that technology and virtual meetings will be the biggest adversity to business travel going forward. This was followed by reduced business activity (14 per cent respondents).

Moreover, it is expected by 94 per cent of respondents that there will be corporate travel budget cuts in the next year, with more than a third of respondents supposing that these cuts will exceed 60 per cent of 2019’s budget.

Dinkar Venkatasubramanian, Partner and National Leader, Restructuring and Turnaround Services, EY said in an official statement: “Corporate India quickly adapted to the pandemic defining a “new normal” for business continuity in the last few months. While lockdown restrictions are gradually easing out, corporates are beginning to assess and distinguish between essential and non-essential business travel.”

He added: “This, in our view, will have a long-term impact on airlines (and other travel-based businesses) for whom this segment has been the lifeline. Travel-based businesses, consequently, would have to redefine their focus, now and beyond.”

“As India’s corporates get more comfortable with the virtual workspace, corporate travel policies are expected to change, thus presenting Indian airlines with a significant, but not insurmountable, challenge,” said Piyush Bansal, operations lead for India aviation, ICF.

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Published on November 19, 2020

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