Corporate travel showing strong signs of recovery – at 70% of pre-pandemic levels

Corporate travel is showing strong signs of recovery, according to Madhavan Menon, Managing Director, Thomas Cook (India) Group, who was the first speaker in Sabre’s new virtual insights series. 

Speaking as part of the Sabre Ascent series, Madhavan Menon said that for the month of March 2022, Thomas Cook (India) is seeing a domestic corporate travel recovery of around 70% of pre-pandemic levels, with international corporate travel starting to follow the same trajectory.  

Madhavan  Menon and  Jaya Kumar K  speak on corporate travel at Sabre Ascent series
Madhavan Menon and Jaya Kumar K speak on corporate travel at Sabre Ascent series

His comments mirror the latest figures released by Sabre in its filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, which provides updated recovery figures for the period of March 1 to 28 compared to the same period in 2019. The Sabre filing said: “While domestic and leisure bookings have continued to lead the recovery, international and corporate bookings have improved at an accelerating rate since January 2022. We expect the March 2022 recovery versus the same period for both international and corporate bookings to be at their highest levels since the pandemic started.” 

He also observed how despite various geopolitical and socio-economic factors, travel is picking up across most parts of the world owing to both corporate and leisure travellers.

During the first-ever Sabre Ascent session, Madhavan Menon also told Jaya Kumar K, Vice President and Managing Director, Sabre Bengaluru GCC that he expects technology to play a “far greater role” in corporate travel as business travellers expect increased, targeted information to help them navigate travel in a COVID-19 world as well as a much more personalized approach.  

Personalized offers and solutions continue to bring forth several radical changes within the travel industry and it will usher in a new era. There are several use cases already of how personalization has not only boosted customer delight and the traveller experience, but has also paved the way for new TravelTech solutions to gain entry into the market.

Both Madhavan Menon and Jaya Kumar K also talked about how attracting the right talent is key for the industry to grow, and they shared how despite all odds, the Travel and Hospitality industries still offer safe, secure and lucrative job opportunities.

Madhavan Menon said that Sabre is “leading this crusade of evolving technology in the travel industry, and that is not something which should be underestimated” because his company would not have made so much progress without global distribution technology.  

The webinar also addressed the challenges and opportunities brought about by the pandemic as well as the evolution of domestic tourism, new trends in personalization, whether sustainability is top of mind moving through the pandemic and the evolving demands of travellers in this new age of travel.  

Looking back at the pandemic, Madhavan Menon said: “What was initially seen as a challenge actually turned out to be an opportunity. I don’t think any of us had faced a challenge of this kind, but there was a realization you’re not alone and everybody is facing the same problem. The last two years have given us the opportunity to re-set.” 

He said that Thomas Cook (India) had re-sized out of necessity, carried out back-end integration, and upgraded its technology to create a more customer-centric focus. “This journey we are taking at Thomas Cook is moving from telling the customer what he or she should do on his holiday to the point where the customer chooses how he or she wants to go on holiday and how they want to interact with us,” he added. “The experience and access to information should be the same no matter how a customer comes to us.” 

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