A third of corporate travel managers across Northern Europe believe their business travel programmes will recover within just six months following the impact of COVID-19, according to new research from Accor.
The recovery will be driven primarily by domestic travel with a longer return to travel expected from international travellers.
The hospitality industry will be buoyed by the news that just seven per cent of corporates believe it will take longer than 12 months for their business travel programmes to get back on track, with 21 per cent predicting it will take less than three months.
In further positive news, when it comes to reservations, just 15 percent of corporates are planning to change the categories of hotel they book in future.
Despite recent events, the most important criteria for corporates when selecting their preferred hotel supplier remains location (38 percent) followed by price (25 percent). While these traditional considerations for choosing a hotel provider have not changed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, traveller welfare is an increasing priority.
Over a fifth (22 percent) of those buying business travel ranked additional sanitary measures and COVID-19 protection as their top priority. This insight emphasises the importance of hotels educating corporate customers on the measures they have put in place to tackle COVID-19, especially as there is no uniform standard across the industry.
Buyers will be seeking reassurance on COVID-19 countermeasures taken by hotel providers in all areas including public spaces, bedrooms and meeting and event facilities. One in eight (13 percent) corporates explicitly state traveller welfare will be their top priority when selecting a preferred supplier in future.
The vast majority (89 percent) of corporates believe their organisation will need to have an increased focus on duty of care as a result of the recent crisis, with 66 percent saying the pandemic will lead to a stricter approvals process for signing off travel requests.
Disruption to tendering process
Accor’s research did highlight that COVID-19 has disrupted the contract tendering process for business travel, events and meeting services, with almost a quarter (23 percent) of those surveyed saying they had no request for proposal (RFP) planned for 2021 and would seek to extend 2020 rates complemented by Dynamic pricing to achieve best value.
A further one in nine (11 percent) buyers plan to only review their top destinations via an RFP and extend most of their current rates into 2021. In addition, many buyers are planning to amend their RFP timing or process, with only one in five (21 percent) expecting to run a full RFP or RFI as previously planned.
Jonathan Pettifer, Director of Corporate Sales and TMC Partners at Accor UK & Ireland, said: “The hotel industry will be gratified to hear that corporates believe their business travel programmes will recover within 12 months, with many anticipating it will happen much quicker. Face to face interactions with clients and business partners are vital in many industries and we know there is significant pent up demand from corporates wanting to get their executives back engaging directly with key contacts.”
To safeguard travellers and boost confidence in booking, Accor launched ALLSAFE a global cleanliness and prevention label in partnership with Bureau Veritas. ALLSAFE requires incredibly rigorous hygiene measures and employee protocols be implemented, with each hotel participating in the scheme subject to independent audit.
To comply with the standards, hotels must deliver actions including hospital grade room disinfection, deep cleaning of all upholstery and carpets, with bedding washed and treated at high temperatures. Hotels will also feature appropriate partitioning, sanitary measures for guest use and the strict observance of social distancing procedures.
The group has also announced that every single hotel in Accor’s 270-strong UK and Ireland brand portfolio has signed up to ALLSAFE.