Business Travel May Never Return to Normal

by Anthony Losanno
Business Travel

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The pandemic changed many things and business travel often tops the list of old activities that have not returned. I used to travel weekly. I would often rack up 200,000-300,000-plus miles flown in a year with hotel stays ranging from 150-250 nights per year. Now, I stay around 100 nights a year between business and leisure and generally fly around one third to half of what I used to clock. And, I’m not alone.

Zoom Call

A recently released report by research company Morning Consult notes that “business travel will never return to normal.” Corporate budgets have been slashed and continue to see cuts as companies weigh the economy and its impacts to their businesses. Virtual meetings have also proven effective and many executives have learned that they don’t need to be face to face in order to be effective. While I agree that every meeting does not need to be held in person, there is still benefit to being together to build camaraderie, effectively communicate, and build connections with clients and colleagues.

The report continues that the profile of the average business traveler has also changed. They’re now more likely to be flying Economy class and making under $50,000 per year. Less trips, less people flying, and less spent on these trips are all highlights of this survey. Of the 4,400 Americans who completed the survey around business trips, only 1% are traveling more than pre-pandemic.

Business Travel Survey

Companies have amended travel policies. 60% are reducing the number of trips, 56% are sending fewer employees, and 54% of companies are scrutinizing business expenses more closely. Company retreats, incentive trips, and tradeshows saw the biggest cuts to travel budgets.

Anthony’s Take: I know that my travel and that of both current and former colleagues has dramatically decreased. During the pandemic we learned that many meetings can be successfully handled virtually and I don’t see that changing. It will be interesting to see how airlines and hotels react if leisure travel cools with the economy and business travel remains depressed. I smell some lucrative promos coming.

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