The Small Business Times

Business Travel in a Post-COVID World

The COVID-19 pandemic changed many aspects of our daily lives, first and foremost the way in which we work. As we became accustomed to working remotely, our homes also became our offices, and the concept of traveling for business became a thing of the past for many.  

Now that restrictions on social distancing and the use of masks are being relaxed in many places, the prospect of going back to work in the office is becoming a possibility once more. But what of that long-lost concept of business trips for meetings, conferences, and the like?

Tools like Zoom for conference calls and staff meetings seem to indicate the death of the business trip for such purposes. However, signs indicate that business travel will not become completely redundant. 

Below we’ll explore the reasons why the ways in which business travel has changed, and why this may be a good thing,  

If you are planning to travel abroad for a business trip for the first time post-pandemic, you should be aware of changes in entry permits that have since come into force. For example, it will soon be necessary for visa-exempt citizens to submit an ETIAS application before traveling to Europe

Less Business Travel Reduces Waste and Boosts Savings 

Business fliers used to contribute to roughly 75% of airline companies’ profits before the pandemic. However, it’s now estimated that they only make up around 12% of airline passengers. 

The Global Business Travel Association has predicted a recovery of corporate travel to previous levels by 2025. But others, such as Former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates, doubt that business travel will ever return to its former strength, and could cap at 50% of what was once normal. 

While that might be bad news for the airline industry, the reduction in travel costs has undoubtedly benefited most business owners. It is estimated that, on average, companies now only spend 10% and 15% of their pre-pandemic budget for business travel. 

What’s more, the pandemic seems to have made companies more conscious of the money they do spend on travel. Whereas booking at higher prices last minute and splashing out on upgrades to business class were once the norm, it’s likely that arrangements for corporate travel will be far more considered going forward. 

The Environment Also Benefits from Reduced Corporate Travel

Less business trips obviously mean reduced costs for companies on travel expenses such as flights or filling up at gas stations along the route. However, it also means that business owners are vastly reducing their carbon footprint. 

Of course, many companies had already committed to reducing their carbon footprint before coronavirus hit. Some popular initiatives included a switch to the use of recycled materials in office supplies, greener company vehicles, and more sustainable office spaces. 

However, the pandemic has raised awareness of how unsustainable some prior business practices truly were. It’s not surprising, then, that many companies are keeping this in mind when moving forward, particularly when it comes to traveling for business. 

One way that businesses are changing when it comes to corporate trips is by taking a keener look at Return on Investment (ROI) when authorizing travel for their employees. 

Asking for justification from workers beforehand and ensuring that any trips are ‘purposeful travel’ will lower spending and unnecessary time away from the job. But it also means that companies will significantly keep their carbon footprint down.

Staff Retreats Are Predicted to Replace Traditional Business Travel

While corporate travel for purposes such as meeting clients and attending conferences may be on the out, stats suggest that other types of business travel could see a rise. 

After remote workers have faced months of home office time, often in limited spaces, there is a widespread desire to reconnect with colleagues other than through Zoom. 

Many business leaders are now considering in-person staff retreats to physically reunite their workforce and boost morale. This is supported by an increased interest from companies in retreat-planning startups like NextRetreat and Troop.

Some commentators are also predicting that ‘bleisure’ (travel combining business and leisure) could become more popular. It could even serve as an attractive perk for remote employees looking to switch up their work environment while enjoying a break in exotic locations.

Furthermore, as some countries like Japan have not yet opened their doors to tourism travel, a combined business/leisure trip may be the only option to enjoy a few days of vacation in these destinations for some time.To sum up, business owners looking to retain their workforce and boost employee satisfaction should keep the possible wanderlust of their employees in mind when deciding for or against corporate travel in the future.