The future of business travel and big city hotels in Canada: Survey results

A new survey about the future of business travel is less than encouraging for big city hotels in Canada.

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A U.S. company called Morning Consult surveyed more than 16,000 people across the Americas, Europe, and the Asia-Pacific region between October 2021 and summer 2022. It found that two in five Americans who used to travel for work three times a year say they will never take another business trip.

People’s intentions can change, but that’s still a startling figure. The numbers were even higher in some places, as 59 per cent of French business travellers and 55 per cent of British business travellers said they’ll never travel for business again.

A recent report at stated that U.S. companies are cutting their budgets for trips by almost a quarter (24 per cent).

That, too, is bad news for hotels that rely on business travellers to fill their rooms, and on destinations that rely on business travel to supplement leisure visits.

“Cities like Toronto rely heavily on business travel for the vibrancy and vitality of its visitor economy,” said Andrew Weir, executive vice president, Destination Development, for Destination Toronto. “The disruption to business travel as we knew it has been plainly obvious and we are now seeing a range of factors pull in different directions, yet to stabilize into a new normal.

“The return of business travel is closely tied to the return to office and city centres, which has indeed been slow to materialize. As more companies and employees return to offices, the need and opportunity to travel for business will follow, though will certainly be forever altered to some degree. Similarly, remote working arrangements suppress some forms of business travel, like flying to meet a client. But they also give rise to new forms of business travel like a remote team coming together for a quarterly meeting,” Weir said.

“We have seen over the course of the pandemic the power of new technologies, but we have also seen their limitations. While video calls may serve the need for sharing content, the fact remains that creative collaboration and networking are forever at the heart of business and depend on face-to-face interaction,” he said.

“TIAO is aware of the challenges in the recovery of the business travel market in Ontario,” the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario said. “In addition to supporting room capacity, business travellers spend four times as much as leisure travellers.

“This underscores the need for all levels of government to work with industry to support the return of business travellers and events by elevating the capacity of Ontario destinations to compete for major business events, supporting the capacity of mid-sized destinations to deliver high-quality hybrid events, and removing all remaining barriers to travel," TIAO said.

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