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Business travel is showing signs of life

June 29, 2021, 10:01 AM UTC

Good morning.

As business bounces back from the pandemic, there are two areas expected to lag—commercial real estate and business travel. In our latest CEO poll, conducted in collaboration with Deloitte, half the CEOs responding said they plan to reduce their real estate spending over the next twelve months. Only 10% see an increase. Why spend money on big city real estate if your employees are spending half their work time at home?

But on business travel, the message is more mixed. Some 55% see an increase in travel costs over the next 12 months, while only 28% see a decrease. That, of course, could mainly reflect depressed travel levels during the pandemic. But I am also hearing daily about business leaders who have returned to the road. And both airline and hospitality CEOs say they see signs pointing to a much more rapid business travel recovery than generally expected.

“Leisure travel is three times the size of business travel and is coming back faster,” says Stephanie Linnartz, president of Marriott. But business travel is showing signs of life. In particular, she says, “for 2022, our group business is looking quite bright. People are booking sales incentives meetings, trips of that nature. People have realized that Zoom, Teams, doesn’t replace face-to-face.” 

“The best data point is what happened in China,” Linnartz adds. “In China, our business has come back in all segments to 2019 levels.”

By the way, on Friday I passed on a bad link to the poll results.  You can find them here.

Separately, Fortune benchmarks business success in a lot of different ways. We have the Fortune 500 list, Fastest Growing Companies, World’s Most Admired, 100 Best Companies to Work For, and more.  But my personal favorite is the Change the World list, which focuses on companies that use their profit-making superpowers to address pressing social problems.

We are taking nominations now for the 2021 Change the World list, which will publish in October. If you know a company that deserves the honor, you can use this form to nominate it. If you have questions, send them to Matt Heimer and Erika Fry at

More news below.

Alan Murray


Facebook antitrust

Facebook's stock leapt more than 4% yesterday after it won the dismissal of two antitrust cases—one federal; one brought by a coalition of states. A Washington judge decided the FTC hadn't sufficiently demonstrated Facebook has a monopoly in social networking. Over to the legislators, then. Fortune

Google antitrust

The Biden administration is reportedly actively pursuing the Trump-era probe into Google's digital ad market practices. The decision about suing Google (again, as the Justice Department is already suing Google over its search practices) will rest with whoever Biden installs as assistant attorney general of the DoJ's antitrust division. Fortune

Cruising downwards

Cruise ship companies' share prices fell yesterday after passengers on a Royal Caribbean vessel tested positive for the coronavirus. The two guests who tested positive were both under 17 and unvaccinated, but investors took fright. Fortune

Crypto caution

Mexico's central bank has maintained its ban on financial institutions trading or offering services based on cryptocurrencies. Banxico's intervention followed a tweet by Banco Azteca owner Ricardo Salinas Pliego, in which he said his bank was preparing to accept Bitcoin. Fortune


Charging imbalance

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Parachute cryptopants

The Fed's vice chair for supervision, Randal K. Quarles, has warned that the rush to create central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) is a fad, like parachute pants in the 1980s. Quarles said he would "have to be convinced" that a U.S. CBDC is worth the effort. New York Times

Finance pride

The "clout of corporate America" was central to promoting LGBTQ pride in the U.S., writes Zach Buchwald, head of the institutional business for the U.S. and Canada at BlackRock, in this piece for Fortune: "Authenticity is a badge of honor in our industry, and for the LGBT community that is measured not just by rainbow logos during Pride, but by hiring practices, HR policies, culture, stewardship, and community activism." Fortune

Zuma sentenced

The former South African president Jacob Zuma has been sentenced to 15 months in prison by the country's highest court. The sentence is not about the myriad "state capture" corruption allegations against him—those still need to be fully resolved—but about contempt of court, after he refused to show up at the state-capture inquiry that he himself launched a few years ago. BBC

This edition of CEO Daily was edited by David Meyer.

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