Globetrender’s free report on The Future of Business Travel reveals nine key trends that will be taking shape over the next 12-18 months, as well as findings from a global survey of frequent flyers.
After conducting a survey in July/August of 2,020 regular business travellers from around the world, Globetrender found that despite the pandemic and the rise in video-calling, the majority still believe that face-to-face meetings are preferable.
More than three quarters of respondents said they would choose face-to-face meetings for sales and pitching over remote working, while 60% of respondents said that the majority of deals and decisions cannot be made virtually. 70% agree that most meetings cannot be achieved more efficiently and concisely remotely.
On the plus side, 67% view remote working as a way to help decrease their carbon footprint.
The Future of Business Travel report was co-produced with Business Traveller magazine and sponsored by American Express Global Business Travel. It comes at a critical time for the sector, which is facing major challenges as a result of the global Covid-19 pandemic.
The survey also revealed that 77% of business travellers would take a Covid-19 test to avoid quarantine while 65% would take an antibody test for a health certificate.
Interestingly, confidence is linked to geography, with respondents from the UK and US more optimistic about starting to travel again than those from Asia or Australia.
Overall, while 34% of people have concerns, they would still travel. However, just 14% of respondents said that they felt completely confident about travelling for business.
What would help boost their confidence to hit the road again? 75% said travelling in business or first class would make them more likely to travel, while 80% said a Covid-19 vaccine would be what made the difference.
Well-known brands are crucial: 87% are likely to stick with familiar airlines and 80% with familiar hotels.
Unsurprisingly, health and safety is now the joint most important factor when booking business travel, alongside price. 78% said they would not shake hands in a meeting.
What is the situation in terms of business travel right now? 47% of business travellers are travelling or expect to be travelling before the end of 2020, while 37% expect to start travelling in 2021.
Finally, 91% of travellers would be less likely to travel if they were required to quarantine at their destination, and 85% would be less likely to travel if they were required to quarantine when they returned home. This means the quarantine problem needs to be solved before business travel can get moving again.
The report, which runs to almost 50 pages, also highlighted nine emerging trends that will shape the future of business travel including Employee Empowerment, Smartphone Centricity and Optimised Facetime.
In addition, there are case studies of companies such as Virgin Atlantic, and interviews with leading industry executives such as Andrew Crawley, chief commercial officer for American Express Global Business Travel. Experts from Lyft, Hilton, IATA and the World Travel & Tourism Council also offer their views.
Jenny Southan, editor and founder of Globetrender, says: “It’s not easy predicting the future of travel, let alone at a time of turmoil. However, thanks to a bespoke, in-depth survey of global business traveller sentiment, combined with expert forecasting from Globetrender, this report gives what we believe is a reliable snapshot of behaviour and trends for the next 12 to 18 months in the business travel industry.
“Of course, the return to business travel will, to some extent, depend on country restrictions and quarantine regulations, but the intention is there, and this is in spite of the lack of a vaccine yet.
“Globetrender believes that key to reinvigorating business travel will be the widespread adoption of Covid-19 testing, both at home and at airports – particularly when it comes to transatlantic trade routes between the UK and the US, for example, which have so far been heavily restricted.
“With the pandemic far from over, responsible corporates will be dealing with profound ethical and moral decisions when it comes to balancing people and profit. There will also be social challenges to surmount when it comes to meeting again in person.
“However, Globetrender believes that increased empathy, tactical efficiency, long-lasting flexibility and greater creativity will benefit business travel – and travellers – for many years to come.”
Tom Otley, editorial director of Business Traveller, says: “The research we have undertaken and which is highlighted in this report shows business travellers are keen to get back to travelling.
“What’s causing delay is the uncertainty created by travel bans and the inconsistent measures – and messages – around testing. There is cause for optimism, but it will take concerted action by the relevant authorities for this to translate into more people travelling for business.”
Martin Ferguson, vice-president, global communications and public affairs for American Express Global Business Travel, says: “Business travel is the engine of the global economy. To get the world moving again, the industry must unite to instil trust and confidence in travellers.
“This report helps us understand what travellers are thinking and feeling, while providing valuable insights that will support how we plan for the future.”
Launched in the UK in 1976, Business Traveller is the leading magazine for the frequent business traveller, with 14 editions worldwide – in the UK, US, Asia-Pacific, Middle East, China, France, Germany, Denmark, Hungary, Africa, Russia, Poland, Israel and India, as well as a number of websites including businesstraveller.com.
Business Traveller is a consumer publication aimed at entertaining business travellers, saving them money and making their travelling life easier.
American Express Global Business Travel (Amex GBT) is the world’s leading business partner for managed travel. It helps companies and their employees prosper by making sure travellers are present where and when it matters.
It keeps global business moving with the powerful backing of 17,000 travel professionals in more than 140 countries. Companies of all sizes, and in all places, rely on Amex GBT to provide travel management services, organise meetings and events, and deliver business travel consulting.