For countless executives and salespeople, business travel has been the cornerstone of corporate life. Some hate it, some love it, but everyone embraces it as a necessity (enriched by millions of frequent flyer miles). Employees needed to fly to meet clients, generate new business, and spend time with the boss at the headquarters.
In this article, we will point out some important things about this interesting topic. The recent pandemic has grounded travelers and forced businesses to find ways of doing things. Some video-call platforms replaced face-to-face meetings. Phone calls filled in the gaps. Customers remained customers, people made deals, and revenue was accrued.
- How much has the percentage of business travel dropped?
- Should we be cautious when choosing whether to stay digital or return to business travel?
- Will business travel return?
- Why will business travel recover
- How to adapt my company to the new business travel?
- Who will dictate the rules of future business travel?
- What is the future of business travel?
- How can we help you obtain more information about business travel?
1. How much has the percentage of business travel dropped?
The decrease in this type of traveler is of course repeated in other latitudes, as is the case of some important countries where last August and September, business trips that generate millions of dollars, were reduced by up to 95%.
As indicated by specialists, since 2017, global spending on business trips has exceeded 1.3 billion dollars annually. With China and the United States being the two largest markets with more than 290 billion each.
It could be years before the sector recovers and gets back to where it was before the pandemic. They even anticipate that demand could return to about 75% of 2018 levels by this year. Some airports, for their part, consider that travel will not return to “normal” until 2024.
It may sound typical that each crisis is a new opportunity to resurface, reinvent oneself and evolve. This last time said statement is more real than ever. In this case, the pandemic caused major changes in business travel.
2. Should we be cautious when choosing whether to stay digital or return to business travel?
COVID-19 forced virtually all industries to reconfigure their operations and has shown that when they align around a common goal, a change in the model can be achieved in record time. This was possible even when it seemed impossible before a pandemic. In uncertain times, we all learned new and more effective ways of working.
However, what is also a fact is that companies that had done their homework in advance and that had already advanced their digitization process, today have a competitive advantage and are better prepared to adapt to the new era. Just as they adapted to the new times, it is predictable that they could return to normality more naturally.
If your company had not taken the step, this is the key moment to think about your next moves at a strategic level. Because if something is a fact in the midst of the uncertainty we are experiencing, it is that the post-COVID-19 world will be more digital. That does not take away from the fact that certain high-importance meetings still need to be addressed in person.
It is said that times of crisis are to grow from within and to take advantage of this opportunity, one of the first movements is to take what technological innovation has to offer to us. The automation of processes through the use of management. Your entry pass is the communication and collaboration software to effective work health.
3. Will business travel return?
Despite the closure of all frontiers at the time, which made companies look for solutions, it would be extremely difficult for business trips to be completely eliminated. Although, they will have to be more efficient and their cost will have to be analyzed in depth. Many will return to the old ways because the fact that they are old does not mean that they are less effective.
Whilst some video-call platforms can be a good alternative for many entrepreneurs (and their businesses) there is no substitute for shaking hands with a client. Especially when establishing links, only then can the finer details of a deal be analyzed. Also, it can assertively communicate the functioning of an organization.
Currently, many of the factors that limit a company’s travel decision are related to the processes that must be passed to reach the destination. Documentation related to the post-pandemic, analysis, etc. Having that key information and papers at hand will make it easier to make decisions.
Undoubtedly, one of the keys to carrying out this reactivation safely is for companies to perceive a climate of trust to fly again. To have the guarantee that the means of transport and accommodation will carry out the appropriate protocols. Hence the importance for companies to update information on the opening or closing of frontiers for certain profiles and trips.
4. Why will business travel recover?
If there is going to be a huge change in the way companies think about business travel, it may happen in the types of travel that are considered essential. Serving existing customers? You can do it on video-call platforms. You can do more important meetings in person if necessary. As long as you apply the security measures, everything will be fine.
That could erode part of the ecosystem that has sprung up around business travel. Hotels, airlines, and car rental companies, for example, offer points and status levels that encourage recurrent business among business travelers. But for road warriors, less travel means less profit. It all depends on the importance and popularity of the company.
Considering the distance, regional and domestic travel, is likely to have a return earlier than international travel. International travel will take longer to recover due to the complexity of government regulations, mandatory quarantines, and the high risk of policies changing rapidly. Adapting to the policies of a foreign country will be more difficult to deal with.
As for purpose, expect sales meetings and customer-related travel to be among the first to return as domestic travel resumes, and more is allowed. And lastly, business travel for major industry events will likely be the last to return as it will require a higher degree of reliance on public safety. Likewise, they are not far from returning.
5. How to adapt my company to the new business travel?
Although the health and economic situation has not yet fully stabilized, the best thing that companies that need to have business travelers can do is to anticipate it. Being prepared for reactivation is the best option. The first to achieve a balance between the traditional and what the pandemic left us will be those who prosper.
Of course, the priority must be people’s health. In this sense, it must be prepared the business travel management system, transit authorizations, and adequate hotel reservations. It is necessary to make the return and refund policies more flexible because cancellations and restrictions for health reasons can arise at any time.
Indeed, is important that the person who makes business trips have access to a system that allows them to self-manage their reservations quickly from a smartphone. Especially if we consider that sometimes the itineraries will have to be changed based on the dynamics of the pandemic and the reality of each different country.
It is convenient to establish a trip evaluation scale. Surely some of them are essential, but video calls can replace some others. The necessities of the clients are important in this case. Logically, essential travel needs different rules, and these need to be reflected in business travel management systems.
6. Who will dictate the rules of future business travel?
Although there is no global authority in charge of this activity, the companies agree that the most appropriate thing is to follow the recommendations of the World Health Organization and the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). Being aware of their announcements and advice is the best thing a company can do.
In any case, in a changing scenario, each country dictates its own rules because the realities in each territory are different. Even within them. In some countries, having managed the pandemic was surely more complicated than others and they are still recomposing. Always keep in mind that each country has its different and strict rules.
Given this scenario, it is the responsibility of companies to take care of their travelers through warnings, prohibitions, and restrictions. It is important to support them with the provision of personal protection kits and education on all precautions when traveling. For example, taking care in car rentals, restaurants, hotels and means of transport.
The evolution of business travel is happening right now. With the help of technology, travel systems are adapting and bringing greater security to travelers and public health in general. It is important to remember that this depends a lot on the country you are going to. Evaluate each travel system so your workers feel safe.
7. What is the future of business travel?
What will happen in the future with reduced business travels? Perhaps, they will fully operate again when the health crisis is totally over. The positive side is that thanks to it, their control systems and their agility will improve. This will provide security based on reliable information through corporate channels.
Thus, corporate travelers will feel that their companies support them and will be present in all their journeys. Each of them has on their devices not only an up-to-date travel management system with the latest technology. Also, 24/7 support, real-time information, and company are very important things when they are away from home.
Likewise, remote communications may replace many business trips, with only the essential ones surviving. What we still have today are remnants of one of the biggest crises that have represented a challenge for the entire business sector, but the main lesson is that only the most agile and adaptable companies will be the ones that lead the post-pandemic recovery.
In any case, there is a segment that will probably resume its pre-pandemic dynamics in relation to business trips for financial negotiations. Personal communication and the level of decisions make face-to-face contact between people essential.
8. How can we help you obtain more information about business travel?
It is clear that business travel is not over yet. You must deal with meetings of the utmost importance in person, even in small groups. Likewise, a company that does not know how to handle technologies will not have the capacity to establish quality meetings.
In PEO Middle East we offer the best services for your business to manage all the new aspects that still persist in the world. From hiring remote workers, payroll outsourcing, and of course, human resource management. We also offer services to help you achieve your dreams in the Middle East if you are from other countries.
It is important to emphasize that there is no specific answer to the question raised in this article since each company is different and not all of them have the capacity to travel. Others have already adapted to new technologies and therefore consider that going back to the past would be going back. It all depends on the point of view of who runs the company.
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