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    The Latest on Return to Business Travel

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    We had all hoped for far more certainty around travel this coming fall – but as the delta variant continues to wreak havoc around the world, it may feel like the only thing you can plan for is…more uncertainty.

    In this blog post, we will take a look at the latest regarding what people are saying about return to business travel and then we will then review some tips for both those who want to return to business travel and for those who do not.

    The Latest on Return to Business Travel

    Based on recent surveys it seems that business travel as we knew it pre-pandemic may be a thing of the past.

    A survey conducted by Bloomberg of 45 large-sized businesses in the U.S., Europe and Asia found that 84% of them said they would spend less on business travel after the pandemic. Many planned to cut travel budgets between 20% and 40% with 2/3 reducing both internal and external meetings conducted in-person.1

     

    The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) has suggested that expenditures on corporate trips could slide from a 2019 pre-pandemic peak of $1.43 trillion to as low as $1.24 trillion by 2024.3  

    According to Thierry Vanlancker, CEO of Europe’s largest paint maker Akzo Nobel NV:

    “Trips to drum up business could drop by a third, and internal meetings by even more. It’s a good thing for our wallets and helps our sustainability targets. Our customers have had a year of training, so it’s not a social no-no anymore to just reach out by video...There’s an enormous efficiency element.”1

     

    Other recent surveys have shown similar results:

    • Another recent survey by the GBTA showed 50% of respondents had either canceled or postponed their domestic business travel and 86% of their business travel abroad.3
    • A WSJ survey concluded that between 19% and 36% of all business-related travel would disappear permanently.2
    • A recent Deloitte survey of 150 travel managers revealed that while business travel would be on an upswing with a full return to office life that for the rest of 2021 it will be sharply curtailed at only 30% of its 2019 levels.2
    • On a positive note, for those focused on sales and account management, the GBTA survey showed sales and account management as the types of trips sometimes + usually allowed at 72%:

    Image source: Global Business Travel Association Coronavirus Recovery Poll Results

    • The survey also showed that sales and account management were also the types of trips employees most wanted to travel for at 59%:

    Image source: Global Business Travel Association Coronavirus Recovery Poll Results

     

    What should you keep in mind as you’re planning for ambiguity and uncertainty this fall? 

    1. Determine your comfort level with travel and communicate your preferences clearly. First and foremost is ensuring that you feel safe; you’ll do your best work when you feel confident and comfortable. Think about what risk level you’re willing to tolerate now, before you’re potentially put into an awkward situation. You’ll do your best work when you feel confident about your decisions and those around you will generally appreciate clarity and respect your preferences if they are communicated respectfully.

    2. Provide options during outreach. When reaching out to set up a meeting or follow up with a contact, provide them a platform to communicate their preferences and suggest options, so they feel empowered to select a venue or mode of communication that meets their needs.

    3. Err on the side of safety. When you do travel, allow the other party to set the tone and demonstrate your respect for their safety by ensuring that you are not only adhering to local health and safety requirements but also following recommendations.  

    4. Make non-travel options appealing. Consider creative strategies to make your next Zoom meeting…not just another Zoom meeting. Send an electronic gift card in advance so you can enjoy lunch together – or share coffee beans from your favorite local coffee shop. Invest in and change up your background (physical or virtual) for conversation-starters that focus on something other than the weather. 

    5. Reinvest your travel budget. With travel budgets down more than 75% in some companies, there may be an opportunity to reinvest savings in technology and tools that accelerate your prospecting and sales work from home. While we hope that you’ll consider Zymewire, here are a few of our other favorite platforms that we think make work-from-home more fun – and your work more successful: 
      Slack
      Mural
      Beautiful.ai
      Venngage

     

    To Return or Not to Return to Business Travel?

    Unfortunately, there is no definite answer to this question, as it all depends on your specific situation.  But as the data above suggests, it will be a slow return for business travel at a best-case scenario with some predicting it will never return to pre-pandemic levels.

    Whether you do or you don’t, we hope that the tips above are helpful for whatever direction your organization goes.

     


    References

    1 ‘Forever Changed’: CEOs Are Dooming Business Travel — Maybe for Good - https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2021-08-31/will-business-travel-come-back-data-show-air-hotel-travel-forever-changed

    2 ‘Stuck between a rock and a hard place:’ Corporate travel’s post-COVID comeback is slow - https://digiday.com/marketing/stuck-between-a-rock-and-a-hard-place-corporate-travels-post-covid-comeback-is-slow/ 

    3 Global Business Travel Association Coronavirus Recovery Poll Results - https://www.gbta.org/portals/0/coronavirus_recovery_poll_key_highlights_07-19-21.pdf?ver=2021-07-16-151909-503