Bill Gates is a man who I’ve always really admired. He’s a visionary who brought so much to modern society, both through Microsoft and through his philanthropic work. He’s also been right about many things over the years—he even rightly anticipated the outbreak of a global pandemic at a TedTalk back in 2015!But back in November, Bill Gates made a prediction that, at least in my opinion, is wrong. He said that in a post COVID-19 world:
While I do agree with him that we will all be going to the office a lot less, it’s the point about business travel that I’d like to take a deeper look at.
That being said, COVID-19 is the biggest health crisis we’ve experienced in modern history. It’s also not over yet, so it’s difficult for us to make claims on whether it will result in a recession. What we can see is inflation, but if you look at Chart 2 below, it’s clear that the stock market is doing just fine. It’s actually at an all-time high.
Of course, the stock market is a proxy for how the economy goes. It’s not necessarily a direct reflection of the economy at this moment. However, the catalyst for the 2008 financial crisis was the crash of the stock market. So, it’s a pretty good indicator of how the economy will progress.That’s the first reason I believe that business travel will recover. History shows that pandemics don’t affect it— and business travel and economics go hand in hand.
- If your competitors are meeting potential customers face to face and you’re not, guess who’s more likely to get the contract. That’s right, the people they met in person.
- As I already mentioned, the point of business travel is to build relationships. The better your relationship, the better your chances of turning it into a lucrative one.
- Being physically present is also about servicing the customer. The likelihood of your deal closing increases with better customer service. If you’re not traveling to do that, you can bet your competitors are.
Remote selling is possible. 2020 didn’t introduce it, it just made it a survival necessity in this time. It’s not a long-term sales solution because the moment one competitor starts traveling again, everyone will too or will risk losing their competitive edge.