What business travel looks like today

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We’ve been asking ourselves the question – what does business travel look like today, and how will it look in the months and years to come? Experts predict that global passenger traffic will not return to original pre-COVID travel levels until 2024 – which is a year later than previously predicted.

It’s crazy to think about how rapidly, and to what extent, our world as we knew it has changed in a relatively short space of time, but also how quickly organisations were able to adapt. Corporations when into action mode, installing perspex screening where necessary and taking extra precautions to keep their customers and their staff members safe.

Business travel is crucial

One thing we do know is that business travel is crucial. Regardless of how many virtual meetings you have, nothing can replace the face-to-face communication we’ve built our economy on. In-person communication is essential for business. Not only do patchy WiFi connections and poor tech impede virtual communication – we bet you’ve encountered many times where you’ve spoken over someone on a Zoom call because you struggle to read non-verbal cues, are we right?

It’s not just reading these cues that help build a trusting relationship. A face-to-face request is 34 times more successful than an email, according to Harvard Business Review. So the quicker we get back to corporate travel, the quicker we can close deals and build better, more intimate business relationships.

What does business travel look like today?

With infections still spreading across the world, the situation is developing by the hour. Corporate travel buyers have made significant changes to their travel programmes over the last few months – with 53 per cent instituting new rules about pre-trip approval and 35 per cent having more frequent or detailed pre-trip communications or briefings.

We can look back to the global recession of 2008 as an indicator of the future recovery rate of business travel. You can see from the graphs below that business travel is much slower to bounce back than leisure travel.

Image source: McKinsey & Company

Business travel is more intentional

With travel buyers reimagining what their travel policy now looks like, we’re going to see a shift in how business travel is prioritised. What each company defines as ‘permissible travel’ will differ, but the results will be similar; business travel will become more intentional. There will always be a reason you’re travelling – which will help organisations focus on the most crucial business events, conferences and client meetings.

Intentional travel will mean more structured travel policies and clearly defined roles for employees.

Business travel is coming back

Although back in April, 98 per cent of GBTA member companies cancelled their international business trips – a recent survey shows confidence is rising and opinions toward the re-adoption of business travel are more positive, with many of the companies planning to resume travel in the near future.

Although COVID has been a large bump in the road for the global economy (and the travel industry in general) – the business travel sector has encountered many challenges – even just over the last 12 years – it might take its time, but as we all learn how to live with this Coronavirus our confidence will grow and we’ll adapt to a changing world. We’ve all learnt valuable lessons in future-proofing and digital agility from this pandemic, and they’re lessons we can all take forward to re-imagine business travel once again.

At Gett, we’ve got an entire knowledge base dedicated to helping you effectively manage your travel needs and offer insights into the changing world around us. You can read our latest blog post here: Coming out of COVID a stronger business travel manager.

If you’re not sure how to define permissible travel, check out our blog post helping travel managers build a permissible travel framework.


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