Business travel has always been an important part of the corporate world, whether you’re meeting to woo new clients or to sign on the dotted line, many consider this to be just another part of the job. But in 2020, business travel has been largely impossible thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic and for those businesses that weren’t forced to close, they’ve had to adapt to find new ways of conducting meetings.
Now, as lockdown restrictions begin to ease across the globe, many businesses are beginning to wonder what the future holds for corporate travel. Will things be able to return to some sort of normal next year or will COVID-19 continue to have an impact? With rules and regulations always changing, there is still a great deal of uncertainty.
But if you’re planning a corporate trip or wondering if you’ll be off on your usual scheduled business trip next year, let us help. Below, we’re going to take a look at what business travel will look like in 2021.
Corporate Travel Will No Longer Be Seen as Essential
Although it’s likely that business travel will return in 2021, it’s also likely to be deemed non-essential in most cases. As such, there will probably be less travel next year. In fact, 47% of corporate professionals believe there will be a decrease in business travel over the next 12 months. This of course doesn’t mean travel will come to a halt, but there will be a lot more to consider when booking a trip. We’ll look at this in more detail below.
Business Travel Will Return in Stages
One of the key challenges with travel right now is that every country has been affected by the virus differently and most have different rules in place. Some places are still locked down and not letting non-natives enter the country. Others are refusing entry to people from certain places and in some cases ‘corridors’ have been formed to allow travel more easily between certain countries.
Because of these different rules, it is likely that business travel won’t simply resume one day. Instead, it will come back in stages as countries across the globe begin to ease their regulations. Interestingly, the industry will also impact travel returning in stages. This is because corporate trips are more important in some industries than others, so those that don’t need to travel will be advised not to.
Business Travel Will Require More Careful Planning
Although organizations may be keen to get their teams back out there and conducting business as usual, they don’t want to do this at the risk to their employees. As such, any form of corporate travel cannot be taken lightly and there will be a need for extra measures and planning when booking a trip.
Private Travel Will Increase
Although the virus may have slowed in many places, people still need to be cautious to protect themselves and others. For this reason, it’s likely that private travel will increase and professionals will alter the way they travel. This is particularly important with governments encouraging people to avoid public transport as much as possible.
The result of this is likely to be that more businesses are hiring private jets for international travel and people will choose to drive across borders where possible rather than taking the bus or train.
Popular Business Destinations Will Likely Change
There are some countries that have become very popular for business travel in recent decades and there are certainly some destinations that we traditionally associate with corporate trips. However, it’s likely that COVID-19 will have changed the map and that some of these popular countries will change.
For example, some popular destinations for business travel include Germany, Spain, and Italy but Europe was very adversely hit by the Coronavirus pandemic. Similarly, the USA, United Arab Emirates, and Japan are all popular destinations for corporate trips but with so many cases they may be reluctant to let people in and out of these countries.
Another thing that might impact the most popular destination for business travel is the corridors we mentioned earlier. Some governments have worked to create a list of countries (called corridors) in which travelers can go without having to self isolate for two weeks. This period of self-isolation will play a big role in which countries businessmen and women choose to travel to in the future.
There Will Be a Return To Managed Travel
In recent years it has usually been left down to the PA to get themselves online and book up the best possible flights and hotels (within budget) and to arrange the itinerary for the trip. However, this could be about to change in 2021 with a predicted shift back towards managed travel. This means using a travel planner or agency to arrange and book the trip as they will be most knowledgeable about current restrictions and the safest places to go and stay.
Business Meetings Will Differ
Any meetings that are conducted whilst on a business trip must be done so in a responsible way and one which abides by any local regulations. This might mean that professionals have to meet in smaller groups than usual, practicing social distancing when together or even wearing masks and other protective gear for the duration of the meeting. This will be down to the discretion of the professionals as long as they’re following the government guidelines in their chosen location.
‘Virtual Travel’ May Be a Better Solution
Though many may be itching to get back to how things were and to resume corporate travel, it’s best not to rush things. As such, travel in 2021 might be increasingly virtual, with more meetings being conducted using video technology unless a face-to-face meeting is absolutely essential. It might not always offer quite the same experience as meeting in person but we’re not out of the woods yet when it comes to the virus and many businesses might feel more comfortable erring on the side of caution, at least for another six months or so.
Business man and luggage standing in airport -DepositPhotos