In the middle of August, the tourism sector is concerned about the holidays, the lack of international visitors and the outbreaks that complicate the season. However, from September they will have one more headache: business trips. Since the pandemic broke out in Spain last March, the travel for professional reasons has been reduced by 95%, being the video calls the protagonists of the meetings.
From now on, a complicated scenario arises for this part of the economy that moves more than 12 billion a year. The companies analyze whether to send their professionals to conferences (among the few that will be held in person) or whether to continue with videoconferences for the remainder of the year.
A survey carried out by Aervio, the corporate travel management platform, shows that although 53% of Spanish companies have already resumed their professional trips, the vast majority only decide to move nationwide, and only 10% will make international business trips this year, none outside Europe.
The fundamental reason for the collapse of corporate travel has been the restriction of mobility to prevent the spread of the virus, but once the borders have been reopened, the pre-crisis volume has not recovered, much less. This market moved in Spain last year about 12,600 million euros and grew at a level of 2% -3% every year since 2014, when the financial crisis ended, according to Gebta data. 4.5 million Spaniards traveled outside of our country last year for work reasons, and we received 5.4 million people.
Iker Goikoetxea, president of the Association of Congress Centers of Spain (APCE), explains to this newspaper that since the outbreak of the pandemic, 270 congresses have been canceled or postponed in Spain for this year in the 32 venues that they bring together, which are the main ones in the country. Regarding its billing, it ensures that if a certain level of activity can be maintained in autumn, will drop 70% compared to last year’s figures. He hopes that 2021 will be a year of “significant recovery” for this part of the economy.
According to figures from the Spain Convention Bureau, the network of local entities that groups 56 conference destinations, the economic impact of canceling or postponing these events will be 6,600 million this year. In 2018, Spain hosted a total of 25,800 business meetings in these 56 cities, and brought together more than 4 million attendees.
Change of model
One of the sectors in which more international fairs take place is technology. In fact, it was the Mobile World Congress (MWC) de Barcelona who started a long list of events canceled due to coronavirus around the world. For now, the organizers of CES, the technology congress that takes place in Las Vegas in January, has already announced that this edition will be fully online.
And all eyes are on the MWC of 2021, which does not clarify for now if it will be canceled again, postponed or if it will decide to be held. Only the suspension of this congress made Barcelona lose more than 500 million euros and 14,000 positions temporary work. Barcelona is one of the most demanded by international business travelers, followed by Paris, Stockholm and Frankfurt. Spain is also the third country in the world with the highest number of corporate meetings, only behind the US and Germany.
For hoteliers this is a great blow. Since Hospitality of Spain They explain that the changes in work models due to Covid, where business trips and meals “have been reduced to the maximum.” Restaurants have seen how teleworking has put an end to the menu of the day, which was the main activity of many establishments and that they have suffered drops in their billing “well above 50% or have even chosen not to open at the moment”, they say .