The return of in-person meetings and the increase in corporate offsite events and retreats create a strong outlook for the future of travel.
What is the future of travel? And, more specifically, what is the future of business travel? The answer to that question in 2020 and early 2021 was much more uncertain than it is today. During the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, business Travelers were largely grounded which left airplanes and hotels only partially full. Rental car companies even started selling off their fleets for lack of customers.
But things are different in 2022, and the future of travel (and the future of business travel) are looking much rosier. What are the key factors and dynamics behind the bright future of travel? Here’s a look at just some of the reasons why business travel programs will continue to be an essential part of corporations’ plans for growth and success.
1. In-Person Events are Back
After in-person conferences and events hit the pause button in 2020, professionals tried as hard as possible to replicate in-person gatherings in virtual settings. It was difficult. There’s just a little something lost when you’re looking at and speaking with someone over Zoom rather than face-to-face.
But an ever-increasing number of professionals are getting the go-ahead to travel for work. Yes, there’s more scrutiny placed on trip approvals, and there’s a greater emphasis on generating significant ROI through business travel. But at least travel is a possibility now in a way that it wasn’t in 2020 and early 2021 for businesses and their team members who regularly leave the office for work.
2. Airlines are Growing Confident
As of late 2021, airline capacity remained 30% below where it stood in 2019, but there were clear signs of growth and confidence heading into 2022. This is an important indication that the travel industry is bouncing back post-pandemic.
Business Travelers make up about 12% of all airline passengers, but they account for about 75% of all airline revenue. As business travel goes, so goes the airline industry. And the airlines seem to be confident about their future in early 2022.
3. Companies are Perpetuating Remote Work
Remote work plans were put into place out of necessity at the start of the pandemic. Now, almost 2 years later, it’s clear that remote work is here to stay. And that’s a good thing for business travel.
In a traditional work environment where team members come to a central headquarters each day, only certain roles require travel — sales, events, etc. But, when there are more remote workers, there are more opportunities for everyone to travel. More on this below.
4. Offsites and Retreats are Plentiful
As more employees work remotely, corporate retreats are becoming the norm across the business world. And it’s not just formally sanctioned corporate retreats that are boosting the overall travel industry. Some employees are now taking what are called “workations.” On a workation, a professional stays in a hotel or rents a home at the destination of their choice. They work during the day (or as needed), and then they spend the rest of their time sightseeing or adventure-seeking or discovering other diversions.
Once upon a time, traveling for bleisure meant staying over the weekend to do fun things in a place you visited for work. The workation is a new iteration of bleisure, one unique to the remote work setups necessitated by COVID-19.
5. Employee Safety and Wellbeing are Priorities
In 2022, we’re living in an employee’s job market. It’s easier than ever to find work. And, if you don’t like how you’re being treated, it’s relatively easy to find another job. Some are calling this the start of the decade of the employee.
Safety and wellness are big parts of treating employees the right way in 2022 and beyond. This is especially true when corporations are asking team members to travel. All companies have a duty-of-care responsibility to their workers, no matter where they might be in the world representing the company. Today, that duty-of-care responsibility holds a heightened importance, and companies are more focused than ever on protecting their employees’ safety and wellness.
6. An Improving Economy Means Bigger Budgets
Companies around the world are responding to an improving economy by spending more than they did in the heart of the pandemic. When COVID-19 first arrived, some companies slowed spending due to uncertainty. Others slowed spending out of necessity. Things have changed in 2022.
As companies increase budgets, there’s more money to go around for all sorts of line items — business travel included.
7. Science and Healthcare are Mitigating New Variants
There will always be the possibility of a new COVID-19 variant that’s worse than what we’ve seen before. But the world now has ready access to a COVID-19 vaccine, which makes recipients safer. There will also be better and more advanced COVID-19 treatments in the future. Yes, there’s always the possibility of a new COVID-19 variant, but the world is better positioned to deal with such a situation now than it was in 2020 or 2021.
Travel Safely and Confidently
The JTB Business Travel team is here to make sure your team members travel safely and confidently. We can help before, during and after trips to ensure that your company gets the ROI it wants from business travel, and we also offer duty-of-care solutions that assist your company with risk management. Behind everything we do is a common-sense approach to business travel.
Get in touch to learn more about what we can do as your travel management company.