For much of 2020, there has been a concern that business travel was not going to be the way it was prior to the pandemic. Businesses turned to video alternatives like Microsoft Teams and Zoom for meetings and conferences, even as countries closed their borders.
Experts have predicted that the pandemic has ended business travel as we know it, and that it will never recover, but we’re not so sure. Business travel has dropped in the past, due to heinous events like the 9/11 terrorist attack and the 2008-09 recession, and in both cases, business travel returned to previous levels. It may have taken years to return, but they eventually did as policies, regulations, and technology developed to help overcome those events.
In spite of the upgrades to computer and video technology, there are those who believe that professionals still have a profound interest in traveling across the globe for business matters. In fact, they believe that business travel isn’t completely over, but is only on another downswing.
That is, there’s only so much information that can be communicated through video communication. The Harvard researchers believe spreading knowhow through face-to-face interaction and presence is what’s going to drive global business ahead and that is what keeps professionals interested in business travel. This is why they believe it will return.
What’s more, business travel will boost Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and in turn, the economy will boost. Harvard’s data shows that both the original country and destination country both benefit.
For example, Australia makes up .09% of the world’s GDP, and much of it comes from dealing with their neighboring countries and abroad. If Australia stopped its international relations, the world will lose much of its economy.
The persistence of business travel
Since 1970, air traffic has made a steady climb, even with the occasional drop in total traffic. Even if a particular incident slows or halts air travel for a time, the industry persists year over year.
Even now, air travel is still in use, as certain sectors are using business travel to deal with the pandemic. One such sector is healthcare.
According to a recent story on TheConversation.com, pharmaceutical companies still need to operate and send medication and therapeutics to different parts of the world. Medical manufacturers are still creating medical equipment that is vital for treating patients. These companies are still sending their employees oversees to conduct training logistics. And business experts believe these companies are going to do well because of the demand of their products in this unprecedented time.
In-person connections also drive business travel
Regular business travelers are also eager to get back on the road, because they’re missing the connections that are made during in-person meetings. Recently, Christine Cassotis, CEO of Pittsburgh International Airport, detailed an international business trip she went on this year.
She had the option to meet with a few industry partners via any of the videoconferencing apps, but she had asked if they wouldn’t mind meeting face to face with her and a colleague. They said yes.
The meeting went on, and everyone wore masks as needed, but everyone agreed how much they had missed deepening partnerships with others through face-to-face meetings.
During her journey, Cassotis noticed how her airport and the destination airport had stepped up in safety and cleanliness, from their planes to the airports themselves. Seeing what she saw, and feeling what she felt, helped remind her about the important need for business travel.
Will business travel return to previous levels? We believe so. It may take several years, but we’ll return to what we once were, and it will be for the good of the world’s economy.
Are you ready to resume business travel? Have you started traveling, or are you going to wait until we get an all-clear from the world’s authorities and experts? Share your thoughts with us on our Facebook page, or on our Twitter stream. You can also find us on our Instagram page at @TravelproIntl.
Photo credit: Mohamed Hassan (PXHere.com, Creative Commons 0)