Rise of ‘gloomy’ trips: How post-pandemic business travel will change

According to data from the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA).

Hit hard by the pandemic, the global travel business plummeted 53.8% in 2020, generating only $661 billion in revenue – down from $1.43 trillion in 2019. That number grew to $754 billion last year, is expected to hit $1 trillion by 2022, and back to pre-pandemic levels in 2024, with sales up to 1.48K billion dollars, according to GBTA Business Travel Index (BTI) report released in November.

During the pandemic, companies have turned to less time consuming and more economical ways to connect their employees through apps like Zoom and Microsoft Teams as well as virtual business conferences.

gbta graphics about business travel GBTA

Now, with the Omicron variant introduced, most travel managers feel employees are willing to travel, according to GBTA January Poll. Two-thirds (64%) feel their employees are “ready” or “very willing” to travel, and 72% of GBTA members and stakeholders say they definitely or probably will .

However, even if revenue rebounds, business travel is expected to be very different in the coming years. Organizations accustomed to saving money as fewer people go anywhere are likely to focus on the “sustainability” of tourism – where employees are encouraged to bundle visits to multiple clients or events into one single trip.

Suzanne Neufang, GBTA CEO, said: “Global corporations have a real drive – so trips may be less, but they can be longer,” said Suzanne Neufang, CEO GBTA’s operations, with more than 9,000 members said. “So overall they can hold meetings of that quarter with fewer trips.”

Another advantage to spending more time in one place: travel is less likely to be affected by frequent changes in travel rules. “There’s a feeling that if you’re crossing a border and you don’t know if the rules are going to change, it’s going to be a lot easier to get there and get your business done with no worries. about the rules will change,” Neufang said.

total business travel spending by country GBTA

Spending on business trips in 2021.

While some workers enjoy traveling and prefer to be on the road, Neufang and industry analysts believe most will want a better work-life balance where business travel does not. affect family life. Actually, in the light of great resignationmore workers are likely to require less time away from home.

“There is a rebalancing going on because of the Big Resignation,” said Neufang. “Certainly, an employee has a bigger say on the subject of travel than before. Going on the 20-day-a-month route is not something many people want to do anymore. They want to live a more purposeful life, then spend the rest of the time there with their family or their kid’s soccer game on the weekend. “

Another emerging trend (with an unfortunate marketing name) is “gloomy” travel, where business travel is combined with leisure or travel. The GBTA calls it “combined travel,” but the meaning is the same: business travelers add days at the beginning or end of their business plan to relax.

In a survey conducted by the GBTA late last year, travel agency executives were asked if they thought employees were more or less interested in extending leisure trips than they were before the pandemic. or not. The survey found that 82% believe that their workers are equally or more interested in “combined travel” than they were in the past.

“Airlines need to find ways to fill intercontinental business class, potentially with premium entertainment promotions,” management consulting firm McKinsey and Company said in a statement. a recent report. “For all travel agencies, the boom in tourist numbers is likely to outweigh profits, as the company’s most lucrative business has slowed to a crawl.”

McKinsey and Company recommends that travel agencies, travel planners, intermediaries, suppliers, and global distribution system providers prepare for a corporate travel resurgence by developing these important skills:

  • Use real-time data. Tracking information such as local and regional vaccination rates, price fluctuations, and changing demand will help organizations make better travel decisions.
  • Embed agility in planning. Innovative solutions and multiple contingency plans will improve organizations’ ability to respond quickly to market changes.
  • Improve comfort and safety for travelers. It is important for employers and suppliers to ensure individuals feel safe and secure when traveling again.
  • Clear communication. Information such as company travel policies, supplier offers and operational changes need to be communicated clearly, frequently, and across multiple channels.

Teleconferencing is also expected to remain popular as an alternative to regular face-to-face meetings. In some cases, reverse According to Dorothy Creamer, research director at IDC, (the use of virtual and augmented reality) will be made available at the conference venues to allow business conference attendees to participate in the development sessions. remote supplier demonstrations and displays, according to Dorothy Creamer, a research director at IDC.

“Everybody has realized that they don’t need to travel. We can still go back to mixed meetings,” said Creamer.

Neufang also believes that the global pandemic has raised awareness of the value of bringing together remote workers at satellite offices and headquarters to brainstorm, interact, and foster camaraderie. set.

“With digital nomads and telecommuters moving out of their reach over the past few years, corporate culture still needs to be embraced – and that can be achieved by doing so,” says Neufang. bring people together. “This isn’t just sitting in your cube and not talking to anyone; it’s for a real purpose – interactions, whiteboard sessions and things that need real, face-to-face collaboration.

While opponents initially predicted intra-company travel would disappear entirely, Neufang said, the opposite is happening. “We are seeing pent-up demand for it,” she added.

Another way, business travel is likely not going to change in the coming months, and possibly years, related to vaccine or mask missions. As variants of the coronavirus appear and disappear, restrictions will likely remain in place.

In the United States, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has extended the mask regulation to road buses, commercial aircraft, bus systems, and commuter rail by at least April 1. March 18, 2022.

We won’t easily forget the lesson of how KN94 and N95 masks can protect you from viruses, says Neufang.

Once on the ground, travelers will likely see new amenities offered in the hotel space. For example, many conference venues and hotels are more likely to provide outdoor facilities for meetings than in the past. And in many cases, hotels will need to find new uses for meeting and conference spaces, which will be slower to fill, according to McKinsey and Company.

According to IDC’s Creamer, to promote business travel to their locations, hotel managers recognize the need to create post-pandemic meeting spaces.

“We are looking at venues that offer more space for the same number of people for better social distancing, as well as more ability to broadcast and stream keynotes and sessions. different for remote attendees,” says Creamer. “You will also see more wireless connections for outdoor spaces.

“And, if it’s outdoors, you see events being held under tents and just have the ability to spread out and use more properties that they might not have used in the past,” she said. more.

Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.

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Fry Electronics Team

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