Amex GBT and TripActions report recent boom in business travel bookings
American Express Global Business Travel and TripActions have each reported a significant increase in business travel bookings in recent weeks, which they say is a sign of hope even as another new variant of Covid-19 expands into many key markets.
Speaking at an investor day this week ahead of the travel management company’s merger with special purpose acquisition firm Apollo Strategic Growth Capital which will soon take it public, Amex GBT Chief Commercial Officer, Andrew Crawley, said that from the week of April 2, the trading recovery was 61% of 2019 levels for the same period. This represents a 33 percentage point increase in recovery since mid-January, when the omicron variant push was in full swing, he said.
TripActions, meanwhile, has reported in recent weeks that in the first quarter it saw more than half the total number of bookings it had for all of 2021. From January to the end of March, global bookings increased 125%, including 240 percent increase in airline spending and a 138 percent increase in hotel spending.
Amex GBT’s Crawley said the quick rebound from omicron’s push bodes well for the performance of future variants.
“They were much more confident in their ability to manage their travel programs during this time and beyond,” Crawley said at the Investor Day. “We haven’t seen any of our customers change their policy to batten down the hatches as they did in previous variants.”
TripActions has also noted an increase in travel by what it considers “super commuters,” employees who must travel to their own offices to meet with colleagues, adding to demand. The company noted that employee categories such as engineers and marketing and product teams have increased their share of total employee travel, which is an indication of this.
Along with the rebound, TripActions also noted that average U.S. domestic airfares in the quarter rose steadily each week, up 55% from the second week of January to the penultimate week of March. As demand continues to increase with limited capacity, this trend is expected to continue, according to TripActions chief commercial officer Daniel Finkel.
“Airlines are reporting a 70% recovery in business travel, but there are pilot and staff shortages and supply chain issues with aircraft deliveries,” Finkel said in a statement. “And while rising fuel prices have yet to affect fares, it could be on the horizon. higher rates and last minute prices.”