The coronavirus pandemic is forecast to wipe out more than half the global spend on business travel this year.
Research by the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) has found Covid-19 has led to as much
as 95 per cent of companies in some regions cancelling meetings and instituting blanket business travel bans.
Tumbling demand for corporate travel is harming hotels, conference facilities and especially airlines, which rely on high-value business bookings for higher yields at the front, or near the front, of their planes.
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Bookings are typically made at short notice when ticket prices are highest.
The association says the cancellation or suspension of business travel will cost US$820 billion ($1.3 trillion) this year, according to its latest snap survey of 1100 members.
Business travel to Asia has been hit the hardest, with at least three of every four companies reporting that they have cancelled or suspended "all" or "most" business trips to China (95 per cent), Hong Kong (87 per cent), Taiwan (79 per cent) and other Asia-Pacific countries - Japan, South Korea and Malaysia (77 per cent).
However, one New Zealand firm says its business customers are still travelling.
''Clients are definitely making new future bookings – many for their mid-winter holiday or for re-scheduled trade fairs or conferences, once again on flexible arrangements,'' said ATPI managing director Grant Bevin.
The firm's first business travel clients were returning to China. They were travelling outside the hard-hit Hubei province and had done a full health risk assessment beforehand.
''Having been in business for 28 years, this month we've dealt with and moved on from multiple international incidents, wars, natural disasters and global viruses.''
Airlines were offering flexibility to change most plans at short notice by easing or waiving cancellation penalties.
''For our business travellers, being visible and present even during challenging times is extremely important. If you're not protecting your position with your clients or suppliers, someone else will. When coronavirus starts to ease off, there will be massive and fast pent -up demand.''
But the GBTA survey results show cancellations and suspensions of business travel to regions other than Asia have increased exponentially..
Half (51 per cent) of association members report their company has cancelled or suspended all or most business travel to Europe – up from 8 per cent in a survey 10 days ago.
Almost one in five (18 per cent) of companies have cancelled or suspended all or most travel to North America – up from 2 per cent 10 days earlier.
Many companies have instituted blanket business travel cancellations or suspensions due to the coronavirus.
More than four in ten (41 per cent) of association member companies report that their company has cancelled or suspended all international travel, regardless of region. This is a significant increase from GBTA's previous poll, when only 7 per cent of companies reported doing so.
The trend is similar when looking at company actions concerning domestic travel. Thirteen per cent of GBTA member companies report that their company has cancelled or suspended all domestic travel, compared to only 2 per cent in the last poll.
Business travel suppliers such as airlines and hotels are feeling a direct revenue impact due to the coronavirus. Nearly six in ten (59 per cent) supplier members report that the coronavirus has had a significant impact on their company's revenue, and another 27 per cent report a moderate impact to date.
Even before President Donald Trump's decision to ban US-Europe travel, the International Air Transport Association had estimated that its members could lose $180 billion in revenue due to the pandemic and several airlines are no longer offering profit guidance because of uncertainty.
The association says more companies are changing their travel policies.
Over half (55 per cent) report their company has instituted new trip approval procedures, an increase from the 43 per cent who previously reported doing so.
"Coronavirus is significantly impacting the business travel industry's bottom line," said Scott Solombrino, the association's chief operating officer and executive director. "As the virus continues to spread across the world, business travel is slowing at an alarming rate. The impact to the business travel industry – and to the broader economy – cannot be underestimated,"
The Washington-based association has more than 9000 members around the world.