My washing machine is once again very busy as my husband packs for yet another business trip. Between the two of us, we’ve traveled for work seven times in the past four months. After nearly 18 months of staying home, we welcome the laundry. Business travel is coming back!
A Few Stats
According to some recent data from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), global business travel spending rose 26% this year, with an anticipated increase of 34% in 2022. These gains follow pandemic-related losses of nearly 61% in 2020.
Business Travel Supports Destinations
That’s good news for hospitality, CVBs, and DMOs that rely on business travelers to stay afloat. If you didn’t already know, these non-profit destination marketing organizations make money based on the numbers of “heads in beds.” The hotel tax dollars that fund them are then used to sell a destination and its businesses to other travelers.
When the pandemic all but eliminated hotel revenues, marketing organizations had to make significant cuts to staff at a time when local businesses needed them most.
As business and leisure travel make a smaller scale comeback, destinations can once again count on their currency to support local merchants.
Business Travel Has Been a Little Slower to Bounce Back Than Leisure – Here’s Why
But the bounce-back has been slower for business than its leisure counterpart for several reasons.
Many conferences remain virtual.
Offices are still shuttered across the country and employees have become comfortable with Zoom, Slack, and Teams meetings. Many companies are hesitant to ask them to travel before they have even returned in person to the workplace.
Mandates Vary from Place to Place
COVID policies are vastly different depending on where you go. Uncertainty about vaccine requirements, mask mandates, border closures, and quarantines may be keeping some business travelers at home.
Companies Have Been Saving Money
Let’s be honest – travel can be expensive. Airfare in particular has a hefty price tag for business travelers and companies have to foot the bill. Businesses are saving 10-15% of their former trip budgets by cutting back on travel expenses.
BUT… Here’s the Good News
While it may be a little slower to rebound, business travel is coming back! As employees return to their physical office locations, corporate travel is expected to increase as well.
Most companies recognize the value of face-to-face interactions and are encouraging employees to do a little in-person elbow-bumping.
In fact, in-person requests are 34% more effective than email. And the close rate for in-person meetings is 40%. Clearly, meeting in person helps build trust and loyalty with clients.
Not only that, but conferences and other industry events have made a comeback (while DMOs and CVBs sigh in relief!) Many offer a hybrid format that encourages both in-person and virtual participation.
Again, there is great value in meeting face-to-face. Those who are already traveling for work say their trips are meeting the needs that teleconferencing tools like Zoom just can’t. Time spent at meetings and trade shows is more productive, focused, and helps build relationships. It allows you to get to know people and what they need in a way that virtual meetings cannot.
Business Travel is Coming Back – It Just May Look a Little Different
2022 will mark an increase in business travel as restrictions ease and people look forward to coming back together. However, the corporate travel market may look a little different.
Meetings may be on a smaller scale and focus on immersive and memorable experiences. Information “dumps” will be replaced by team building and project work.
The destinations for business travel may also change. Rather than the urban centers like Las Vegas or New York, corporate travelers are opting for smaller, less crowded spots like retreat centers or 2nd tier destinations.
And let’s not forget about bleisure travel– a top travel trend for 2022!
Related Reading: Top 5 Travel Trends for 2022
Looks like my washer will be working a little overtime!