Virtual business meetings have been an excellent solution since the onset of the global pandemic, but after over a year of operating this way, workers have expressed an overwhelming opinion that travel remains important to strengthen business relationships.
Nations are beginning to get back on their feet again, and the desire for the opportunity to create meaningful relationships again for both business and leisure purposes is resurging.
Last June, London based company Emburse, a global leader in expense management and accounts payable automation announced interesting findings of its latest YouGov survey, which was conducted to investigate the current attitudes towards business travel. 1,202 prospective business travellers were asked questions around their motives for travelling and if it still has an important part to play in business.
Based on the results, the vast majority (70%) of those surveyed, regardless of race, age, or gender agreed that travelling for work and conducting face-to-face meetings will help strengthen business relationships.
There was a distinct difference in attitude when it came to how different generations felt about travelling for work during the pandemic. Younger people aged 18-34 were most keen to escape the house for business travel (52%), compared to only 38% of those aged 55-plus. This could be a suggestion that they are less risk averse when it comes to Covid, which is ironic because Gen Z will be some of the last to receive the vaccine, which will make international travel more difficult.
When looking at all respondents, younger workers (18-24) are by far the most eager to get back on the road (34%), with 45-54 year olds the least keen (20%).
Business travel as a means of escape:
Almost half of those surveyed said if offered the opportunity to travel for business, they would look forward to a break away from their household (45%)
Over four in ten (44%) of married respondents say they would be excited to escape the house through business travel
Similarly, nearly half (47%) of respondents with children say they would travel for work in order to get a break from their household
Younger workers aged 18-34 would be most keen to escape the house for business travel at 52% – compared to only 38% for those aged 55+
More children means more desire to get away for a business trip: 46% of respondents with one child, 49% with two, and 54% with three or more children are looking forward to the potential of business travel.
What would people be looking forward to most when it comes to business trips? 37% of respondents said it would be staying in nice hotels. Only 6% were excited about spending rounds of drinks for their colleagues.
Meanwhile, 26% of people surveyed said they would be most looking forward to exploring new places. 22% would be most looking forward to meeting colleagues and clients in person again, and 18% said having a change of work location would be most appealing.
What does the future look like for intra-pandemic business travel?
Even though trips would be for work, business travellers are keen to socialise again. The opportunity to connect with colleagues and customers overseas is still a crucial part of business despite the success of virtual meetings. The data speaks for itself, despite the non-conventional reasons from those surveyed, the desire to travel on business is high.
Firms must look forward and prepare themselves logistically for the return of expenses and travel management as it’s certainly coming back into focus.
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