Business travel isn’t doomed, but it will look different in the future

Do employees miss the hassle of airports, delayed flights, and jet lags? Turns out… they really do. So much so that business travel might turn into a perk offered by employers in the future. Work trips are slowly coming back, and while workers generally agree that face-to-face meetings are crucial, things won’t be quite the same. These are the “side effects” of the pandemic with regard to business travel. 

A paradise for corporate nomads

It’s never been easier to become a digital nomad, and you don’t even need to be a freelancer. That’s here to stay, as people are embracing a lifestyle that allows them to move around freely. “For employees, the value proposition is clear — the ability to experience a new city promotes professional development and personal growth. With the normalization of remote work over the past year, the need and expectation for this benefit will only grow over time,” Stanley Fourteau, Ukio’s CEO and co-founder, said for Sifted.

Business travel will be fun in the future…

When business trips come back, they may be more scarce, however, also probably longer. They will not be viewed as a necessity but rather a tool to reward employees for their work.

At least that’s what Evan Konwiser, the executive vice president of product and strategy for American Express Global Business Travel, predicts. As he said for Bloomberg, business travel will turn into a fun benefit, and it will prove to be an investment into employees, company culture, and competitiveness. “Right now, companies are allowing [work from anywhere] because there’s no point in not. But some companies may soon sponsor it as well. It might create more enlightened, globally-minded employees. This is the replacement for having a cool office with lots of perks,” he explained. 

… except when it won’t be

If you’ve been on the road during the pandemic, you know exactly what we mean. Flying was never synonymous with joy, but now it’s even more exhausting due to inevitable safety measures, health screenings, and submitting negative tests or proof of vaccination. The whole airport and flying experience is designed to be extremely hygienic, and we suspect this won’t go away anytime soon. Despite any inconvenience for an individual traveler, it’s also great news. Unsurprisingly, this is yet another reason why future business travel may see people lean towards longer trips instead of frequent trips. 

However, the focus on safety also allows for quick adaptation of new tech. Anything contactless is a plus throughout the traveler’s journey. And so your phone will (literally) be key across all touchpoints. It will get you through borders and could even unlock your hotel door. “Because of COVID, contactless experiences matter, and of course, that leads to all things mobile,” Erika Alexander, the chief global officer of global operations at Marriott, said at a panel Business Travel 2021 hosted by Future Company and Deem. “I think our advancement toward a more digitally enabled landscape is going to continue to evolve. We were all headed in that direction, and it’s just a matter of speeding up the process.”

Face to face deals are still the future

Around ¾ of workers believe that face-to-face meetings with clients are more effective than remote sales meetings and pitching. The survey by also suggested that 70% of people don’t think that meetings can be more efficient and concise remotely, and 60% believe that the majority of deals and decisions cannot be made virtually. However, 67% view remote working as a way to help kick-start carbon footprint reduction. 

That being said, it’s safe to assume that business travel has been merely on a break. All that pent-up desire to explore the world and connect with people will be unleashed on the workplaces, and hey – it doesn’t sound half bad

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