The COVID-19 pandemic caused many companies to change their corporate travel policy dramatically. Flight cancellations, lockdowns, and health concerns meant travel management became increasingly complex and video conferencing became the norm. In an increasingly digital age, many are questioning the future of corporate travel. What will business travel look like, and will its significance to their business change? Often misguidedly interpreted as a perk, there has been a host of research undertaken into corporate travel’s function and effectiveness. So, what is the importance of business travel?
Yes, business travel is necessary in the digital age.
As human beings, we are wired biologically to be social. From ancient times we relied on each other and the knowledge we shared for our survival. Extensive research from UCLA has shown that we are evolving to become even more reliant on these social structures. Currently, the way we learn and work does not center around our social natures. However, according to Professor Matthew Lieberman, if we shifted towards a more social approach, we could tap into a new level of potential within our brains! The social aspect of our minds is activated when doing business in person, and corporate travelers reap the benefits in various ways.
Corporate travel fosters idea sharing and economic growth.
According to the London School of Economics, the more a team operates virtually, the less effective it will be. One of the primary purposes of business travel is to share knowledge and ideas. Research has demonstrated that disseminating knowledge between people can be a slow process. To speed up the practice, we need to physically move the person (and therefore the knowledge) to different locations. Harvard University demonstrated that business travelers create economic growth through the information and ideas they share because different countries or regions naturally have expertise in varying areas of business. On a smaller scale, an example of this principle is this. Imagine your company has separate silos, with teams that rarely interact with each other. Digital communication tends to be concise, and each team might not be aware of the aims or the issues the other team is facing. Meeting in person for a conference, for example, might allow each team an insight into their differing challenges, foster a greater understanding of each silo’s place within the business, and enable breakthroughs that will create a more efficient workplace in the future. Both companies and economies will be keen for business travelers to get back on the road as the human connections forged during business trips create opportunities for innovation, creativity, and increased productivity.
Face-to-face meetings give you a competitive edge.
Perhaps the most familiar face of business travel is the image of sales representatives traveling to secure business deals. Last year saw lots of sales activities move online out of necessity. However, despite Bill Gates’s assertions last November, long-term in-person meetings and corporate travel are sure to make a return. After all, the technology to host meetings online has been available before this pandemic. Yet organizations still prioritized large travel budgets, often including international air travel, to send corporate travelers to conduct face-to-face meetings. In-person meetings set you apart from competitors who rely on digital communication for both large and small businesses. Clients are far more likely to choose the company that has traveled to speak with them directly. It is easier to build trust, have frank and possibly tricky conversations, and negotiate the details of a business deal in person. When travel restrictions lift, companies that continue to rely on digital meetings might lose out to competitors who opt to get their teams traveling again.
If your company usually has an extensive travel program for your team, keeping track of the latest developments for each itinerary can be difficult. Corporate travel management was challenging during 2020, and flexibility was essential. With our TravelCare risk management solution ensuring you meet the duty of care for your teams is easy. With safety alerts for travel managers and your corporate travelers, you can be confident in your plans. Plus, thanks to FlexiPerk, if you need to make any cancellations, you are guaranteed to be refunded a minimum of 80% of your travel costs.
Business travel comes in many forms.
Corporate travel is undertaken for various reasons, not simply to negotiate or secure business deals, and business travelers come in many forms. With more teams working remotely or scattered over long distances or varying time zones, business trips can also draw together distributed teams to build relationships and share their feedback. For example, AGMs or conferences can include business travel elements to unite distributed teams to network, share ideas, and receive vital updates. Alternatively, off-site meetings can help foster new ideas, and team-building days can help improve communication while also acting as a perk after a successful quarter.
This comes back to the idea of human connection. That businesses require a face-to-face dimension because we as people have an inherent need for interaction to thrive in all aspects of our lives. Companies built on teams that work together in person, at least in part, find it easier to scale. Trust is easier to build in real life, and communication easier to foster when not relying solely on video conferencing.
So, despite the setbacks of 2020, business travel will remain an essential part of any growing organization.
Whether you are a small business or have a designated travel manager with a large team to coordinate, corporate travel management can be time-consuming. So how can you ensure your travel plans are straightforward, efficient, and include the flexibility we will continue to need in the post-pandemic world? With TravelPerk, the days of checking rates across multiple travel agencies are gone. Through TravelPerk, you can handle your global business travel needs in one simple-to-use platform. A travel management system designed to make corporate travel more straightforward and help reduce travel costs. Plus, our customer care team is available 24/7, 365 days a year, with human support to ensure the best travel experience for your corporate travelers.