Surprising business travel sectors becoming more popular during lockdowns

The head of a leading travel management company has observed that SMEs have become more resilient and adaptable to snap restrictions, and surprising segments of the travel market have grown during lockdowns.

Tom Walley, general manager at Corporate Traveller Australia, a division of the Flight Centre Travel Group, said the most surprising business travel trend he noticed amid border closures was the rise in intrastate business travel.

“Our booking data shows a significant spike in several intrastate flight bookings in the current lockdown as well as previous lockdowns,” he said.

“Popular intrastate routes are Brisbane-Townsville, Brisbane-Mackay, Perth-Port Hedland and Perth-Karratha. I believe we will see a continued shift towards such travel routes as lockdowns continue.”

Walley believed travel management companies had buffered the financial impact of travel restrictions on the business market and the travel industry and helped essential business travel continue.

Walley also said while lockdowns had impacted several industries with traditionally high rates of travel, other surprising industries have emerged as the more frequent travellers.

“Several industries have been hit hard by restrictions, as we have seen an increase in travel postponements in the pharmaceutical, agriculture, retail, and insurance industries,” he said.

“However, air traffic during lockdowns has been replaced by industries that comprise essential workers, largely that have been able to travel during lockdown.

“These include mining, medical, consultancy, manufacturing, construction, and engineering. Fortunately, these essential industries have opened up promising pockets of travel to help keep the business travel market operating.”

Walley said border closures were having an extensive impact on SMEs but that the consensus was the desire to travel for business was still very strong.

“Border closures can have an impact on sales, particularly where face-to-face meetings are needed for success,” he said.

“While some SMEs will be impacted during this time, others can take advantage of intrastate opportunities that have opened during lockdown.

“Ultimately, SMEs can expect a healthy return of this business function once lockdowns end and restrictions ease.”