AmEx CEO says business travel will never be the same post-COVID, as consumers go everywhere ‘except the office’

January 26, 2022, 3:58 AM UTC

American Express Co. Chief Executive Officer Stephen Squeri said corporate travel will never be the same again after COVID-19 forced millions of employees to work from home.

U.S. consumers staged a robust comeback in the final three months of the year, with spending on travel and entertainment surpassing pre-coronavirus levels. Such spending by AmEx’s large and global corporate customers, meanwhile, remains just a third of what it was before the pandemic.

“People are skeptical about business travel because of all the remote workforce,” Squeri said on a conference call with analysts Tuesday. “Business travel is going to be completely different. And, I think, as you have more people in more remote locations, they may need to get together three, four, maybe five times a year to come to headquarters.”

As the pandemic shut offices across the country, businesses shifted client and employee meetings online, reducing their spending on things like airfare and conferences. While AmEx expects a full recovery in travel and entertainment spending for individual consumers and small businesses by the end of the year, a similar rebound in corporate travel and entertainment spending will take longer, the New York-based company said. 

“Consumers are learning to live with it—we’re over it,” Squeri said in an interview. “They’re going everywhere right now except the office.”

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