Coronavirus and Meetings
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Following several weeks of discussions among constituents and stakeholders, the Global Business Travel Association is proposing that the 2020 hotel request-for-proposal process for corporate travel rates be postponed until 2021. The association is also encouraging hotels to roll all 2020 rates forward to 2021.
"GBTA usually does not get involved in the hotel RFP process, but we made a special exception this year in light of the widespread effects of the pandemic," explained GBTA CEO Scott Solombrino. "We got involved at the request of top travel buyers and the top 50 hotel brands. Our hope is that all parties can agree to roll rates for this year and then negotiate new rates in 2021, once we all have a better sense of the pandemic’s longer-term impact on the industry."
While a GBTA poll this week revealed signs of optimism -- 35 percent of members indicated their companies are developing post-COVID-19 recovery plans to begin in three months or less -- the degree to which business travel will begin again, and when, is still unknown. Nearly 3 in 10 respondents (28 percent) said they didn't know when recovery plans would be implemented, and nearly that many (27 percent) said they're planning for recovery to begin in 6 to 8 months.
What's more, many companies, particularly on the supplier side, are working with much smaller workforces at the moment. "With so many people furloughed or laid off, and with so much uncertainty about when travel can truly restart, buyers and sellers have neither the resources nor the knowledge right now to develop a mutually beneficial hotel RFP," Solombrino added. "We hope that by pressing the pause button, we can have a more fruitful negotiation in 2021. We really see this as a commonsense intervention."
In addition to the discussions GBTA executives have been having with constituents, poll results indicated this is the right move: More than 90 percent of travel buyers favored a postponement of the process because so many key people have been displaced by the effects of the pandemic.