Eurostar reports the robust return of business travel in the first six months of 2022. Recovery of business travel between London and Paris has been fastest amongst French and US companies according to Eurostar data, with the banking, luxury and consultancy sectors driving the business travel market.
With 75% of the pre-pandemic timetable now running, Eurostar business travel has returned to 70% of 2019 levels, whilst managed corporate accounts have increased by 40% between 2019 and 2022.3 New research commissioned by the high-speed rail operator indicates the strength of corporate confidence in future European business travel, with 78% of travellers surveyed expecting to travel more or the same for business between the UK and Europe than they did in 2019.
Face-to-face contact between businesses and clients is driving travel according to 90% of those surveyed. Over half (58%) of businesses claim that this is a more efficient way to do business, as well as supporting team morale and improving colleague and client relationships1, allaying fears that the new hybrid or home working model would signal an end to regular business travel.
Chief Commercial Officer, Francois Le Doze, comments: “Business travel has resumed faster than we expected in 2022, especially considering that we are only running around three-quarters of our pre pandemic timetable. We are confident that this trend will continue after the summer period, with September traditionally marking a busy month for corporate travel.”
Work + play trend
A strong business plus leisure trend - “bleisure” - has emerged during the pandemic, as employees seek to use the flexibility of being able to work anywhere to combine work with family time. According to the research, over a quarter of business travellers want to make up for time lost during the pandemic by extending work trips, with 86% considering this approach in 2022.1 Eurostar travel data supports this, with 85% business trips booked in May and June including a minimum one-night stay.4
Chief Commercial officer, Francois Le Doze, said: “Over the last two years we have all enjoyed the flexibility of home working and many are looking to protect the additional leisure or family time that offered. For regular business travellers, the option to extend work trips to explore a new destination and enjoy relaxation with friends and family is high on the agenda this year.”
Train versus plane
Sustainability is now at the heart of many business travel policies, and so far this year over 20% of Eurostar’s corporate clients mandate train travel for journeys where this is a viable option. The new research backed this up, with a quarter of those surveyed stating that their employer is mandating train travel for work trips, a figure that is higher for smaller businesses.
In addition, over half of travellers (56%) stated that choosing sustainable travel options for work is more important now than before the pandemic. 2 With one flight the equivalent of up to 13 Eurostar journeys in terms of carbon footprint5, rail has a significant role to play in delivering immediate carbon savings.
“It is pleasing to see in both France and the Netherlands that governments are following the same path as businesses, looking to use policy to influence travel choice for the benefit of the environment, “said Francois, “We are committed to working with the rail industry to further optimise our timetables and connections to make it easier for more passengers to choose train over plane.”
From September, Eurostar has announced the addition of a fourth return service on its popular London to Amsterdam route, with the new train leaving London at 06:16 to better cater for the business market.