The Future of International Travel in Business
- 28.07.2021 12:43 pm
International travel has long been a part of business dealings. In the distant past, we may have found that only the biggest and wealthiest firms could afford to travel to meet potential clients, suppliers, and customers. But as air travel became cheaper, the internet allowed contact to be made easily across the globe with potential trading partners. Unfortunately, we have seen a little bit of a slowdown in this trend in recent years, firstly due to protectionist tendencies such as the America First notion in the USA and Brexit over in the UK. If we add into the mix a global pandemic, we have seen very little international business travel over the last 18 months, despite it being one of the few exemptions in many territories. So, what is the future of international travel in business? Will we return to the old normal? Or, is there a new culture that will become the new normal? We will dissect and discuss the various issues surrounding business travel going forward.
The Circuit Breaker
As we previously mentioned, much of the world has been in a state of limbo for the past 18 months. We have seen such previously unthinkable scenes, such as empty offices, everyone working from home, and virtually no international travel. But it seems business travelers are keen to return to the skies, with a whopping 96% willing to travel for business and an equally impressive 68% are pushing for a return to business trips.
Even with travelers willing to return, it doesn't mean everything will snap back to complete normality. What will flying in a post-COVID world look like in reality? The industry will be in a recovery phase for several years; of this there is very little debate. Many commentators, such as McKinsey & Company, predict that vacationers will fuel the recovery. This seems to be at odds with the fact that so many business travelers are willing to travel, with business travel taking until 2024 to reach 80% of pre-pandemic levels. But maybe being ready to travel and being sent on trips are two different things, or perhaps it just shows that nobody knows for sure what will happen. We can be certain of more delays and stricter hygiene measures, meaning earlier arrivals at the airport.
Most accommodation providers have placed special measures, such as closing bars and restaurants, only allowing room service. Remote check-ins and reduced capacity in the building have all been seen. Other than promoting high hygiene standards and strict cleaning routines, it should be expected that most hotels will be keen to return to business as usual, sooner rather than later.
The Use of Video Conferencing
Video conferencing has been available for decades now, but it really came into its own during the lockdown periods. With workers either being stuck working from home or in vastly reduced capacity offices, almost everyone has seen some use of this software. Despite it always being an option, many firms would still default to physical meetings out of sheer habit. What will be interesting to see is if that habit has finally been broken. For most meetings, it has been seen that being in the room may be an overstated luxury.
We have seen a downturn in migrant workers in recent times, this is true across the board, from low-level occupations such as fruit pickers right up to executive positions. But with everything opening up, we are likely to see a bounce back from this position. Many things will differ at first, such as the examples we have given above. One thing to be particularly mindful of is who to go to for insurance; what you will get for your money will be considerably less than before, so be sure to choose a reputable provider, such as Global Medical Insurance.
Working From Anywhere
It is true that for many, we can work from anywhere, and many may choose to move away from the cities and work remotely from cheaper locations. Will this mean employers offer less in wages or look to hire cheaper labor from foreign markets? Only time will tell.
Given that we have seen more firms grasping the money-saving opportunity that video conferencing brings, is there any place for large business conferences today? Absolutely yes, is the answer; there are aspects of meeting in person that can never be recreated virtually. This is particularly true of larger events; there is no way you could realize networking opportunities in the same way in an online setting.
In all sectors, we will see new innovations that have been born out of necessity but will become normal. Remote check-in will see an expansion to many more establishments. Even how we pay for travel will become easier, with more diverse options for customers from multiple regions.