When the COVID-19 pandemic halted travel around the globe, business travelers had to pivot quickly from in-person meetings and events to virtual platforms. As the pandemic continues and travel-industry players look ahead for a rebound, our research shows that the postcrisis return will take years and that business travel will return at a slower pace than leisure travel.

In this article, we examine the role of corporate travel, and how the industry has recovered after previous disruptions; the segments that may return first, and how and why they will differ; and the segments that may be permanently replaced by technology. We also explore travel patterns and event recovery in China, the first major market to resume travel, and see how other major markets on varying timelines of pandemic recovery are faring. Finally, we highlight key actions that could help travel players in an undoubtedly lengthy recovery ahead. In future articles, we will take a deeper look at the timeline and shape of the recovery curve for corporate travel.

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