What will travel in 2021 look like? Will we go back to the status quo, or have we entered an entirely new travel landscape?
There’s been nothing normal about business travel since the COVID-19 pandemic started circling the globe in early 2020. Thankfully, due to better testing, better care and the availability of COVID-19 vaccines, things are changing. But how will travel in 2021 look different?
Will we go back to the way things were before?
Can we go back to the way things were before?
Experts are buzzing about what travel in 2021 will look like for both business and leisure Travelers. As an Executive, it’s important that you keep tabs on where the travel industry is heading, and how that direction will open up new opportunities. Here’s a look at the new opportunities your company will have, as well as trends and challenges to expect this year and beyond.
1. Embrace Touchless Technology
If any good has come of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s that touchless travel technologies are now prevalent around the world. Airports and other travel-related environments have always been cesspools for viruses and other germs to spread with ease. Now, it’s easier than ever to stay healthy while traveling because of these new touchless technologies.
Make sure that your team is in a position to take advantage of these new technologies. For example, make sure that your travel management company (TMC) and your related travel technologies include workflows that allow for virtual boarding passes, keyless check-ins and other touchless experiences that can help keep your Travelers healthy and safe.
2. TMCs are Essential
The COVID-19 pandemic has also highlighted the duty-of-care responsibilities that companies have toward their business Travelers. As an Executive, you cannot lead an effective risk management program using only in-house resources. You need the right TMC to assist the company in living up to its duty-of-care responsibility.
The best TMCs today have in place systems, technologies and programs that allow your Travel Managers to keep tabs on your Travelers no matter where they are in the world. Modern TMCs also have structures in place that allow for constant communication as needed should your team members ever be at risk while traveling on behalf of the company.
3. Think About Your Travel Footprint
Now more than ever corporations are thinking about the carbon footprint that their business travel programs leave behind. We’ve written recently about the many ways that environmentally conscious companies are taking account of their carbon footprint — and taking measures to mitigate it.
This is not simply a fad. This is a new way of thinking about business travel. If your company is not thinking about the ways that it impacts the environment, as well as ways to alleviate that impact, it will quickly fall behind. Now is the time to start thinking about the sustainability of your travel program.
4. Expect More Travel, Not Less
Do you think there will be less business travel in a post COVID-19 world? Think again. The pandemic has brought about the rise of remote working. While remote workers will often connect with colleagues in virtual settings, there will undoubtedly be more travel as remote workers need to meet in person on a regular basis.
Companies large and small will work with employees located around the country and, in some cases, around the world. But monthly, or quarterly, or on some regular basis, these employees will have to gather for status meetings, in-depth work, reviews, and other important functions. In aggregate, the volume of travel created by remote workers is likely to surpass volume from before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Your company’s leadership team has likely already talked about and planned for operations in a post-COVID world. Be sure to consider travel for remote workers as part of your long-term planning for all business travel.
5. Virtual Meetings Aren’t Going Anywhere
Your company will need to place extra emphasis on the value of any potential business trip in a post-COVID world. To ensure that your Travel Managers and team can pour all of their effort, energy and resources into high-value business trips, you will need to ensure that there is a high-quality virtual alternative to low-value trips.
Again, this is an opportunity to embrace new technologies. During the pandemic, companies found new and creative ways to connect and have productive meetings in virtual settings. Create space for your team to talk about what has worked and what has not worked when meeting virtually. Your Travel Managers and other relevant staff can use that feedback to inform decisions about virtual meetings and when it’s essential that team members gather in-person.
Make the Most of Your Corporate Travel in 2021
Yes, the travel landscape will look different in 2021. At JTB Business Travel, we have the tools, resources and experience needed to help your company maximize its ROI from business travel. If you and your team are ready to get back on the road again, we are here to help.
Contact us to learn more about our common-sense approach to business travel.