Business travel will not resume soon, but so what?


Business travel update

He was short in stature, probably in his forties, with pale hair, cold eyes and the steely voice of a cruel, cunning young man.

“All your liquids must be put in a plastic bag no more than 20 x 20 cm,” he said calmly when I stood at the security line at Stansted Airport last weekend.

I have two bags, both of the wrong size. One of the bags contained an item that a man claimed he would immediately confiscate: roller-ball insect repellent.

“But I have been flying with these things for many years!” I grumbled. “Then where is the rule that the bag must be 20 x 20 cm?” In the queue behind me, when people realized they had encountered the worst traveler: the idiot type, I felt my eyes start to turn.

The security was right. The bag size rule has existed since at least 2006. A Google search later revealed that although the rule of insect repellent is not clear, I should be more clear.

Not entering the airport for the past 18 months is not a real excuse. There is also no disturbing fear that another official is about to discover an error lurking in the thick binder of Covid documents needed for boarding. Don’t worry, if I can board Ryanair’s impact flight to Spain, I will be lucky to leave without being infected.

The whole experience left me with an overwhelming thought: If this is the future of flying, just for a summer vacation, business travel will be in trouble.

The airline owner predicts “regeneration” In business travel, as Ed Bastian of Delta Air Lines Finished in June, you might be comforted by the idea that vacations are optional and work trips are essential.

But Covid has revealed a self-evident truth about business travel: many of them are for reasons unrelated to business.

Before the pandemic, business trips provided a successful combination of getting out of the office and entering a new place you’ve always wanted to go-or an old place you missed.

What is unfair is that work travel can also allow people to avoid housework while increasing their importance.Of course you wanted It’s a pity to go home next month for that parent-teacher night! You have to go to Aspen for a regular business meeting. Or Bali. Or Barcelona and all other destinations that once lit up the work calendar with such a shining promise.

If you think this sounds too cynical, consider what 3,850 business travelers in 25 markets around the world said to researchers A survey Commissioned by SAP Concur, a company that sells job travel management software.

What is impressive is that 96% of people are willing to return to a business trip, and 65% are “very willing”. But when asked about their personal reasons for wanting to return to the business lounge, 54% said they wanted to connect with customers and colleagues, while 52% said they wanted to “experience a new place”. “.

In addition, 41% admitted that they are keen to “take a break from daily life”, and 19% said they just look forward to getting dressed and going somewhere.

I don’t blame them at all. Although Covid has fully demonstrated how much work can be done easily and cheaply on the screen, business travel will never completely disappear.

Obviously, it is better to visit in person, for example, to inspect the plant before your company buys, or persuade customers to sign a big contract with your company, rather than sign a contract with a hungry new competitor.

Personally, I can’t wait to interview people face-to-face in the natural environment again instead of on the screen.

But I also know that before 2020, I don’t think it’s possible to do things like IPO through Zoom at home. Then I met the founder of a British company, and he just did this-very successful.

The pandemic has the habit of turning predictions into ashes, but I would be very surprised if business travel returns to what it used to be soon.

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Twitter: @pilitaclark


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