The future of business travel
1. Bleisure trips are a growth area
With people working longer hours than ever before, and taking fewer days off, its understandable perhaps that business in increasingly becoming mixed with leisure. After all, if Dow Jones 30 companies such Apple and Boeing can have ping pong and foosball tables in their offices to help hard-working staffers relax, it’s only a short step to allowing them some time on a business trip to unwind too. The bleisure trip is seen to be particularly important for millennials, who make up almost 40% of business travelers according to booking sites. Combining business and leisure time in a bleisure trip is most common when traveling internationally, and it’s well worth giving team members the ability to extend an official trip by a couple of days when business is complete for some personal time. They will come back refreshed and eager to restart work at no additional cost to the company.
2. Hotels are out and vacation rentals in
The traditional accommodation choice for the business traveler was the international hotel chain. Reliable in quality, well-connected and easy to book in a time before online reservations, they were the go-to option for many years. The disrupting influence of the internet has changed all that. Already more than 70% of millennial business travelers (who make up more than a third of business travelers remember) use vacation rentals booked via sites including Airbnb. One reason is that this age group find such vacation rentals, often entire apartment spaces, preferable over plain hotel rooms. For companies, these rentals can often be financially cheaper, better located for meeting a specific client, and have a more homely feel, putting stressed colleagues at ease so that you can get the most out of them and the trip as a whole.
3. Centralized booking is out
Trends suggest that gone are the days of a centralized travel office arranging business trips for a company. The future of business travel is instead likely to see a continued growth in individual members of staff making their own arrangements using either a corporate credit card or claiming back from expenses after the event. The advantages are that colleagues are able to choose flights and accommodation options that are best suited to their particular needs. The major disadvantage might be the difficulty in companies ensuring they are getting the best bang for their buck with the most cost-effective bookings, an aspect of business travel that isn’t always at the forefront of an employee’s mind. Another risk to look out for when considering the future of business travel is what happens when bookings don’t follow the expected schedule. With a centralized office as a point of contact, dealing with cancellations or rescheduling of events is relatively easy. When self-booking, it’s then up to the individual to deal with these problems themselves.
4. Better technology on the move means better worker efficiency
Technology plays a huge role in what we have already discussed with regard to the future of business travel. But not only does improving technology make organizing a business trip easier, it makes working on the move and staying in contact with both the office and clients all the easier. The expansion of the 5G high-speed wireless internet network, and the rapid increase in trains and
planes providing free or pay-for onboard Wi-Fi means workers can follow a relatively normal working day while on the move, increasing efficiency and productivity in the process. It also means presentations can be shared on the cloud and updated right up until they have to be given, ensuring they remain as accurate as possible, taking account of the most recent world events.
5. Business travel is still seen as an incentive by employees
Though the idea of the business trip as code for a little R&R has well and truly bitten the dust, employees continue to see business travel as not only an incentive, but also something that contributes positively to the development of their professional and personal growth. There’s no sign of this philosophy changing anytime soon in the future of business travel, meaning companies should be looking to continue to embrace the idea of business travel as a benefit employees are looking for when deciding which organizations they might want to work for in future.
6. Business travel will continue for the foreseeable future
Worries over the global economy, the outbreak of coronavirus, as well as companies racing to limit their carbon footprint might suggest that the future of business travel is a poor one. It generally takes two or three years for business travel to return to former levels after a big shock such as a financial downturn – none of which have been the size of coronavirus. However, a video meeting
simply can’t form the same relationships as face to face meetings can, especially when courting potential clients. For every market that is seeing a fall in the demand for business travel, there is another market where business travel continues to grow. In large areas of the world including Asia, Africa, and Latin America, face to face meetings are still seen as an important part of doing business. What might change is that individual trips are likely to be combined into one larger trip, an evolution that would be an efficiency boon for companies. Large conferences that have long been important networking events will continue to be an important part of business travel heading into the future too. This means business travel is set to remain a key tenet of a company’s client relationships for the foreseeable future, and companies big and small should take advantage of the trends we’ve highlighted to ensure they remain ahead of the competition and don’t risk being left behind.