Professionals in KSA and UAE say loss of travel has adversely affected business performance

In a year of working-from-home and video calls, new research conducted by Collinson demonstrates the importance of business travel recovery for the region

Professionals in KSA and UAE say loss of travel has adversely affected business performance
  • More than four fifths of business travellers in the UAE and KSA say their job has been in some way negatively impacted by the lack of cross-border business travel.
  • One third of respondents specifically said not being able to travel for business over last year has made them feel unable to do their job effectively. 

Dubai, UAE: New research by global travel services expert Collinson has found that more than four fifths of business travellers in the UAE and KSA have seen their job affected in some way by a lack of cross-border business travel, and around one third specifically said that they feel unable to do their job effectively. It is commonly thought that business travel recovery will be slower to pick-up than leisure travel, due to businesses continuing to function during the pandemic without travel. Yet, as a further one third of business travellers in the UAE and KSA say that not being able to travel for business has made them less productive, these new findingsdemonstrate the economic importance of cross-border business travel for the GCC.

The survey results reveal that while most business meetings are now conducted digitally via video call, there is a growing need and desire amongst a large number of business travellers to recommence travel. It is, however, important to note that they will be looking to their employers for the right provision of support and assistance solutions before taking to the skies again – those that protect not just their physical, but also mental health.

Before the pandemic, 31% of UAE business travellers raised concerns about the impact of business travel on their mental health, while 42% said it had increased their stress levels. Our research conducted during the pandemic indicates that these feelings have intensified and that these areas will now be more critical for businesses and the travel sector to focus on. In fact, 80% of business travellers in KSA and 76% in the UAE, say they’ll be prioritising their mental wellbeing more when they travel in the future than they did before the pandemic. As businesses consider restarting cross-border travel, the challenge remains in making sure employees don’t feel it comes at a cost to their physical and mental health.

Post-pandemic, corporate wellbeing initiatives will be high on the agenda of companies globally. Employees that need to travel for work should be able to do so with confidence, knowing that their company is providing them with full support.

However, more than half of UAE (57%) and KSA (55%) business travellers interviewed in our pre-pandemic survey said their employer expected them to prioritise keeping the cost of travel low over their wellbeing and safety. Alongside this, pre-pandemic, only 25% of UAE and 20% of KSA business travellers, were certain that their employer offered a travel risk management (TRM) programme and knew how to use it. Getting business travel back on the road is going to require a strong focus on ensuring that employees’ wellbeing is prioritised and that there is not just adequate support in place, but that employees clearly understand what is available.

Priyanka Lakhani, Commercial Director Middle East and Africa and Director South Asia at Collinson, said: “The importance of business travel remains clear, and this research certainly proves that the lack of cross border travel has had an impact on the ability of many to do their job effectively. However, what this research also highlights is that despite the need and desire for the return to business travel in the region, both mental and physical wellbeing, and well thought through, and well communicated TRM programmes are going to be very important for individuals moving forward.  In order to make business travellers feel comfortable travelling again, it won’t just be a question of COVID-19 measures such as testing and vaccinations, but an opportunity for businesses to understand what their employees want from the future of corporate travel and build this into their programmes to offer the right support and provide a great experience for employees, partners and clients when taking to the skies again.”

About the Data

Data collected from a total of 18.5k travellers in 2019, of which 17k of these were leisure travellers and 9k travel for business*. The research was carried out Australia, Brazil, China, India, Japan, Russia, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Singapore, the UAE, the UK, and the US. On average, leisure travellers took 2.24 trips per year and business travellers 2.34.

Data collected from a total of 12,607 travellers in 2020, of which 11,159 were leisure travellers and 7,904 travel for business*. The research was carried out in Australia, Brazil, China, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Singapore, the UAE, the UK and the US.

*Some respondents answered from both a leisure-traveller and business-traveller perspective

About Collinson

Collinson is a global leader in the provision of traveller experiences including airport lounge access and medical and security assistance and travel medical services. Collinson’s traveller experiences include the world’s leading airport lounge and experiences programme, Priority Pass, as well as travel insurance, identity assistance, flight delay, international health and travel risk management solutions.

Collinson has over 2,000 employees operating out of 20 locations globally, all working to deliver a broad range of traveller experiences that ensure the safety, welfare and comfort of 55 million people as they travel for business and leisure around the world. Its travel medical and security assistance business unit has more than 55 years’ experience in the delivery of international medical assistance and emergency care, including the handling of pandemics such as Ebola, Zika and the coronavirus. Last year alone, Collinson responded to over 95,000 emergency calls, managed over 40,000 medical cases and conducted over 3,000 aero-medical evacuations across the 170 countries it serves. We work with clients including: American Express, Cathay Pacific, CBA, Mastercard, Radisson Hotel Group, UnionPay and Visa. 

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