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Corporate travel won’t return to pre-pandemic levels in 2022

Corporate travel won’t return to pre-pandemic levels in 2022

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Wajeeh Khan

Nov 25, 2021

AMEX CEO expects corporate travel to take two more years to fully recover.

Steve Squeri says the pent-up travel demand will sustain momentum in 2022.

On retail side, spending was up 21% in October on a year-over-two-year basis.

The hybrid work environment is here to say; that’s the broader consensus. But corporate travel will still recover completely to 2019 levels, says American Express Company (NYSE: AXP) CEO Steve Squeri.

Squeri’s remarks on CNBC’s ‘Closing Bell’

On CNBC’s “Closing Bell”, Squeri reflected on the importance of in-person meetings for cultivating business relationships as he predicted corporate travel to recover completely over the next 48 months.

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Visiting customers will never go away. There is nothing like being in front of people face-to-face to build those corporate relationships. I don’t think we’ll see that back in 2022, but I believe as we move into the end of 2023, you’ll get business travel back to where it was.

In terms of retail spending, the CEO noted, American Express was already up 21% last month on a year-over-two-year basis. Last month, the multinational credit card services company reported strong results for its fiscal third quarter.

Travel demand to remain strong in 2022

According to Squeri, consumer travel is already in the green, as indicated in bookings up roughly 30% in October, with about half of these trips related to the holiday season. The strong pent-up demand, he noted, will sustain the momentum next year.

During the pandemic, one of the things that were really good for us was customer retention. People were accumulating points, rewards, and miles for those trips they haven’t taken in a year and a half. So, consumer travel is all the way back for us, and I think it’ll continue in 2022.

Squeri doesn’t see inflation as much of a threat for American Express either, as the company makes money on spending, not lending. The stock is up just under 50% this year.

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