In the past 20 months, a good share of day-to-day work communication moved online with little to no loss in employee productivity and company bottom lines. While business travel came almost to a complete halt, many businesses recorded high profits. Understandably, executives started wondering whether past travel volumes were needed.
A recent study by Deloitte looks into how the pandemic is reshaping corporate travel. A total of 139 executives with oversite of business travel spend and strategy shared forecasts on when their companies would reach specific benchmarks as a percentage of 2019 quarterly spending. As of Q2 2021, less than one in five companies had reached even 25% of their 2019 quarterly spend. By Q4 2022, nearly half say they do not expect 2019 spend levels, but almost nine in ten anticipate reaching 75% or higher.
How business travel matters
While executives realised technology changed the way businesses work amid the COVID-19 pandemic, they still queried whether business travel matters. The most recent BCD Travel survey revealed why employees travel for business.
Three quarters told us that business travel helps them perform their work efficiently and provides an irreplaceable opportunity to meet in person with their colleagues, clients and business partners. For around half of the respondents, business travel provides a source of job satisfaction and boosts productivity, both of which should be good news for executives.
Participants in the survey further indicated that business travel sometimes disrupts their work-life balance, adds stress for their families, disrupts their daily work, and counts towards added stress in terms of their health. Only a tiny proportion of employees raised negative aspects of business travel, such as the stress it creates for their families, health issues, or the disruption to their work-life balance.
Travelling with purpose
According to Deloitte’s research, competition and growth imperatives will necessitate a resumption of business travel. The BCD Travel researchers expect that the timing will vary by market and the reason for the trip.
As travel returns, the key is not to reduce travel spending but to increase travel effectiveness towards meeting the company’s goals. Travel managers will need to define what constitutes necessary business travel to do this. A well-organised business trip that combines visits to several clients at nearby destinations may come at a higher trip cost, but it lowers the frequency of travel.
The experienced team at Rennies BCD Travel can assist travel managers in evaluating the purpose of business travel and provide them with the right resources to adjust their travel programmes to the new way of working.