The year 2020 was a hard hit for travel and tourism, especially for business travel and corporate travel. With the worldwide lockdown and strict travel restrictions, our homes turned into offices, and miles of distance turned to minute-long Zoom meetings. But what will be the future of business travel post-Covid-19?
Business Travel pre-Covid
Business travel is that part of the travel industry that is focused on individuals who travel for work purposes. Therefore, their requirements are different compared to those of leisure travelers. When it comes to this type of customer, travel management companies must take care of transport, accommodation, as well as activities such as meetings, exhibitions, or conferences. For many companies and organizations, business travel has been essential for their success. Consequently, throughout the years it has become a multibillion-dollar industry. As a result, corporate travel is the main source of tourism for major city centers and popular hotel chains. Also, it is responsible for around half of revenues for all major airlines.
How did the pandemic affect corporate travel?
The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted all sorts of travel and tourism. According to Statista, global business travel spending dropped by 61% in 2020. Meanwhile, in 2019 it reached an all-time high of 1.3 trillion U.S. dollars.
In 2020, businesses have explored a new way of working through virtual meetings and home offices. While they discovered that it can be beneficial, it also reminded them of the importance of human contact. As tech gadgets have tremendously simplified work, they can also lead to professionals experiencing burnout. And in some scenarios, only meeting in person will do. So, when it comes to creating new relationships, it can be difficult to build trust through the screen. Additionally, whenever there are too many people involved not everyone can easily participate in the conversation. So, when dealing with people from different cultures, face-to-face meetings are crucial to seal the deal.
What does the future hold?
Now that the vaccination process has started worldwide, it seems like there is a more positive outlook that travels, in general, will resume. According to the latest poll by GBTA, almost 25% of respondents report that their company has resumed non-essential business travel, or that the company has started business travel planning. There are also multiple signs for business travel recovery, including an increase in willingness to travel, a decrease in trips canceled, and travel bookings continuing to increase. So, despite a year that rapidly changed reality, people will still need to network and establish deeper business connections.
However, the future of business travel will be slightly different from the past. There will have to be improved policies regarding hygiene and cleanliness to ensure the corporate travel safety. Also, business trips might become more meaningful and have a more strategic approach.
So perhaps, the future of corporate travel will be a better version of the past.
Stay tuned for more updates!