Despite challenges, it appears concerns regarding a business travel bounce-back are behind us – more or less.
Business travel received a heavy blow with the Covid-19 pandemic halting not just business travel, but the travel industry as a whole. However, industry experts can more or less all agree that a business travel bounce back has occurred, and the industry is here to stay. That doesn’t mean that the business travel industry won’t face some challenges in the near future — think labor shortages, increased costs and other disruptions — but things are in a far better place than they were several years ago.
So, with this business travel bounce back, what can you expect for the business travel industry looking ahead to the upcoming year? Here are seven observations and predictions.
1. Remote work makes business travel easier.
Before the pandemic, most business travelers were accustomed to only working in two places: at the office or on the road. However, during the pandemic, that changed. Suddenly, work was being done wherever you happened to be, showing that work is hardly limited by geography or environment. A necessary and simultaneous cultural shift in most offices has made remote work easier and, as a result, business travel has been made easier, too.
Now, team members may be able to travel more often than they could in the past, because there aren’t as many worries about being gone from the physical office. Because those team members aren’t as concerned about being away and still managing to be productive, they may also choose to extend their travel over a longer time period. A whirlwind trip jam-packed with meetings over two days becomes much easier when it can be spread out over a week. All while never missing a beat in productivity or connectivity.
2. Business travel has also become more complex.
But while the pandemic may have ultimately made business travel easier through the rise of remote work and new technologies, the pandemic has also made business travel more complex. New concerns have arisen regarding employee well-being, health and duty of care. The blend of remote work, business travel and in-office work can make travel planning and booking, as well as expense reporting, more difficult, especially if team members are more accustomed to doing all of the above in-office.
Luckily, travel management companies can help with all of these complexities that have arisen now and that will continue to impact companies and organizations into the future.
3. Business leaders and decision-makers will continue to watch costs.
Last year, some analysts predicted that business travel would take longer bouncing back (or that the business travel bounce back was dragging) because companies simply weren’t willing to spend the funds on it.
Now, while most teams have resumed travel, you’ll still see some of that hesitance to spend. Decision-makers may enforce new or stricter guidelines around what the company will or will not pay for, and employees may find that their current business travel isn’t quite as luxurious as it once was.
Again, this is where travel management companies are providing a vital service, helping companies keep an eye on their travel spending, track spending data and, ultimately, save money.
4. Team members are coming to the bargaining table.
While business leaders are pushing for what they want (business travel-spurred results at a lower cost), traveling team members are doing the same, with employees pushing for what they want from their business travel experience. Some are flat-out refusing to travel for work unless managers are flexible. Whether that means more time in a destination for a less-stressful trip or a flight upgrade so they can get some much-needed shut-eye before a packed itinerary.
A savvy business leader can balance both team members’ travel needs and costs, with the right resources.
5. Sustainability remains a focus.
One of the things that business travelers continue to focus on during the business travel bounce back is sustainability. This has been a trend for years, and it didn’t go anywhere even when travel was brought to a halt in 2020. When the world resumed travel, it picked up its passion for sustainability at the same time, and business travelers were no exception to this.
Business travelers are consistently looking to their companies to show their commitment to sustainability by opting for sustainable travel options — even if those options are more expensive. From greener transportation to cutting out unnecessary travel. Choosing sustainable hotels and supporting local economies during travel, measures like these tell employees that the company commitment to lowering the carbon footprint is authentic.
6. Employers are shaking up their loyalty.
Travel disruptions due to strikes and labor shortages have made headlines this year — and it’s prompted some extremely loyal customers to turn their backs. Now, some travel managers and decision-makers are switching up their airline and hotel loyalties. Even if a company has traveled with the same brand for years. The focus is now, instead, on trying to find and book the best price and other desirable factors, no matter who’s offering them.
7. Small and mid-sized enterprises are turning to managed travel.
We mentioned a few of the ways travel managers could help businesses with navigating these latest results of the business travel bounce back above, and it’s things like that which are inspiring small and mid-sized enterprises to explore their managed travel options. When saving on expenses, setting policies and ensuring traveler safety and comfort are all key. It’s sometimes just too much to do internally, and a travel management company can help.
Do You Need a Travel Manager?
Wherever the future of business travel takes us after this business travel bounce back. You can rest assured in your company’s travel program and budget when you have a partner like JTB Business Travel on your side. Learn more about all of the travel services JTB Business Travel offers, from policy development to travel care to risk mitigation. Get in touch today, and be sure to check out the JTB Business Travel Resource Center for more information on how to manage travel in the modern world, from the bounce backs to beyond.
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