Nearly 1 in 4 business travelers say COVID-19-related travel restrictions have made their jobs less effective, according to a survey from Chubb.
With COVID-19-related safety measures putting a damper on travel in the past year, much of the business world turned to remote tools to manage their client relationships that otherwise would be dealt with in person. Further, airlines operated 97% fewer flights in 2020 than in 2019, according to the American Journal of Transportation.
Many business travelers have expressed concern that the lack of travel has hurt their business relationships, with 76% of respondents agreeing that COVID-19 has harmed their ability to maintain relationships with clients and business partners, according to a survey from Chubb.
The survey polled business travelers from North America, Europe, Asia Pacific and Latin America where almost 1 in 4 say travel restrictions have made their jobs less effective.
Areas that have been negatively impacted include client service and the ability to maintain relationships with clients and business partners. More than 4 in 5 respondents feel they are missing something in a business conversation because they cannot see body language or other visual cues that they would otherwise have gotten from an in-person meeting.
However, respondents balanced this with concern over safety, with 87% of business travelers personally concerned about contracting COVID-19 during the pandemic and taking steps to protect themselves by wearing masks and social distancing. About three-quarters say they always follow government rules with one-quarter saying they sometimes follow COVID-19 restrictions.
About 57% of respondents say they were comfortable flying domestically or internationally during the coronavirus pandemic. Just under half would fly only domestically, and slightly less than one-third would only fly internationally.
Half of respondents indicate they would be comfortable staying in a hotel during the coronavirus pandemic. Only 30% would take a taxi or rideshare service and 23% would take a train, subway or bus. Approximately 1 in 10 say they'd be willing to attend a function or event with more than 100 people—despite health officials' warnings against large gatherings.
One in 5 respondents say they would not do any travel activity. However, 68% say they were more comfortable traveling for business than leisure because their livelihood depended on it.
The coronavirus pandemic has increased business travelers' awareness and the value of travel insurance, with 81% saying they'll pay more attention to what travel insurance they have before taking a trip. And 86% agreed that travel insurance would make them more comfortable when traveling for business and leisure. Three-quarters say they would pay more to keep the middle airplane seat open.
“Our survey shows that business travelers are now paying closer attention to what travel insurance coverage they have before they take a trip," says John Thompson, division president of international accident and health at Chubb. “As COVID-19 recedes as a barrier to travel, the importance of best-in-class travel medical coverage and employer duty of care are increasingly being recognized."
Not surprisingly, the vast majority of respondents (82%) say they expect COVID-19 to have a lasting impact on business travel. Nearly 70% say they expect their employers to try to reduce business travel in the future to save money.
AnneMarie McPherson is IA news editor.