Strikes and the World Cup – Impact on business travel

The strikes, which began in France in April, have now lasted 10 weeks. This is an extremely rare occurrence and is having direct consequences on train and air travel, both for individuals and businesses. Business travelers have learned to restrict, optimize or even cancel their travel plans. We can see this clearly in our aggregated French transaction numbers.

The month of May is traditionally a month where Bank Holidays offer the opportunity of long weekends – a well-known and much-awaited time of the year. In May, employees are often asked to use their remaining leave and take extra days before or after a bank holiday weekend. This year in France, the week of the 8th May had no fewer than two bank holidays. This resulted in a very slow week for business travel. If we look at the May figures for the past five years, 2018 is by far the weakest.

2018 is a “leap year” for football with the start of the World Cup on 14 June, which suggests another difficult month for business travel.

What does the schedule tell us?

From 14 to 30 June, of the 50 group matches, only 15 will be played in the evening, which means that 70% of matches will take place between late morning and early evening. We know that during the last World Cup, held in Brazil from 12 June to 13 July 2014, millions of viewers tuned in to watch and a staggering 3.2billion watched the final between Germany and Argentina… We might, therefore, expect that business travel on a “match day” would be similar to that of a bank holiday.

From a macro perspective, this is not an economic slowdown. Periods in which employees take the days between bank holidays and weekends as leave is favorable for activities such as tourism and eating out. The World Cup will increase occurrences of meeting-up and dining out.

Traveldoo has become an interesting barometer with more than 4,500 client companies and more than 3 million B2B reservations made on our platform. In May, we recorded an overall decrease of more than 10% and for some companies particularly focused on the French market, the decrease in SNCF [French rail system] transactions may exceed 25%. The effect extends to Air France, whose bookings have also declined.

To what extent does this significant decline in business travel have a direct effect on the activity and performance of the companies in question?

Year-on-year, we find that activity normally increases again in June – the strongest month of the year. Businesses catch up on backlogs and decision-makers are eager to wrap projects up before the start of the summer holidays.

This year, the world of football will certainly diminish this catch-up effect and delay some projects a little longer. In the business world, some have made up their minds and are betting on the reliability of the month of September, a good time to relaunch projects with the hope of a more stable post-holiday season.

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