The definition of essential travel has changed in recent years. Here’s a guide to help you decide when to travel and when to go virtual.
Cost containment is top of mind for Travel Managers and the companies that they work for. While the corporate world has returned to business travel, travel budgets have not bounced back to their pre-pandemic levels. That leaves us to answer the question: What is essential travel? And it also leaves us to determine when to fly and when to click instead.
Deloitte recently released a report with key findings from a survey of travel professionals. The report also included a matrix that indicates how Deloitte chooses when to travel and when to opt for virtual gatherings.
Here’s a look at what the matrix includes, as well as ideas for creating an “essential travel” matrix that works for your business.
What Meetings are Replaceable by Technology?
As part of its Why We Fly Matrix, Deloitte identifies along the X axis how replaceable a meeting is by technology. To the left, meetings are highly replaceable. To the right, meetings are highly dependent on in-person interaction. Along the Y axis, Deloitte identifies how essential a meeting is to the business.
For example, Deloitte identifies 4 types of meetings that are replaceable by technology. Two of them fit into the non-essential quadrant, and the other 2 fit into the essential quadrant.
The non-essential meetings deemed replaceable by technology include:
- Internal training, learning and development.
- Industry conferences for content.
These areas are likely to experience a long-term “pullback” in corporate spending.
The essential meetings deemed replaceable by technology include:
- Leadership meetings and presentations.
- Internal team meetings.
These areas are likely to see declining travel approvals over time. They may experience a “pent-up pop” after months and even years of limited travel. But these meetings will move online over the long-term.
What Meetings are Dependent on In-Person Interaction?
The meetings that are dependent on in-person interaction fall into the same pair of categories: meetings that are more essential to the business, and meetings that are less essential.
The less essential meetings include:
- Exhibitions and tradeshows.
- On-site visits and monitoring.
While these meetings may require face-to-face interaction, there’s less upside in investing in them when evaluating a travel budget.
The more essential meetings include:
- Sales or client acquisition.
- Client project work.
- Client relationship building.
- Industry conferences to network.
These last four types of meetings exhibit the greatest long-term need. But it will be competitive to secure dollars for this type of spending. Inevitably, some of these meetings will also move to a hybrid structure.
Creating Your Own Matrix
While your travel decision matrix will include many of the same types of meetings as Deloitte’s, you may evaluate those meetings differently and you may have other types of meetings to facilitate.
Create your own matrix by listing out all of the different types of travel your company invests in during the year. Then, get input from different departments about where those meetings fall on your matrix.
Answer these 2 simple questions:
- What meetings are easily replaceable by technology?
- What meetings are essential to the business?
From your research, draft and socialize a matrix that can help your organization rapidly make consistent decisions about approving specific trips.
Maximize Your Investment in Business Travel
JTB Business Travel has always taken a bottom-line approach. How can we help you maximize your travel spend while also creating the most productive and comfortable itineraries for Travelers? The answers to those questions drive our business — and yours.
Your company is navigating a travel landscape that’s far different from the one before the pandemic. We’re always here to help you make the best decisions using our common-sense approach to business travel.
Contact us to learn more about maximizing your investment in travel.