Corporate travel: essential contribution in the reactivation of the industry

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The industrial and production-oriented sectors are leading this reactivation process

With the COVID-19 pandemic, the tourism industry came to a standstill and with it business travel had to quickly switch to virtual meetings and events. According to the Global Business Travel Association, the pandemic has been devastating for this sector. Before 2020, business travel had grown for 10 consecutive years, with an average growth rate of 5.1% per year. However, according to the research firm Research And Markets, in 2020 the global business travel market decreased by 54% compared to 2020; By 2021, it is expected to drop 4.5%.

Today, almost a year and a half after the start of the pandemic, the bitter situation of the travel industry seems to see a light on the way. In this sense, organizations play an essential role, as it is business travelers who largely drive the sector and who, without travel, have suffered significantly. According to a study by SAP Concur, 46% of entrepreneurs feel that their business will have negative consequences due to the absence of business trips.

According to Miguel Ruiz, Director of Consulting Solutions for Latin America and the Caribbean at SAP Concur, “it is vital at this time to establish tools that allow companies to gradually resume their travel dynamics. Although conditions have changed and all companies must adapt to them, it is essential to understand that activating travel can activate many companies that until now operated in slow motion, and the regional and global economy will move in the same way ” .

In this regard, it is necessary to highlight several elements to take into account with respect to this gradual recovery of business trips.

  1. National and regional trips first

Respondents to a study by the Global Business Travel Association stated that they are twice as likely to reactivate their national or regional business trips as international ones. Local travel can be replaced by means of transport with less exposure such as personal or rental vehicles, which would avoid short flights. And if the use of a plane is essential, companies prefer short trips, instead of those that take several hours.

According to Miguel, international travel will take longer to recover due to the complexity of government regulations between countries, mandatory quarantines and the high risk of policies changing rapidly.

  1. Biosecurity is key

Although it is true that flights to national and international destinations have been enabled, biosecurity measures are the common denominator today and will be maintained in the near future as it is the easiest way to control contagion and protect the population in general. Business travelers will have to get used to restrictions and rules at airports, flights and hotels, which will also mean adjustments in the way organizations manage travel.

A survey by the firm Wakefield Research, for SAP Concur, shows that 57% of business travelers in America believe that one of the changes to be made will be the use of a mask and hand sanitizer in shared spaces for a long time .

  1. Contact with customers is essential

It is important to note that many meetings that were previously considered essential have now been displaced by virtual meetings, which have been just as effective and with significant savings for organizations.

According to survey results from consulting firm McKinsey, trips to sales and customer-related meetings are more likely to be among the first to return. As organizations return to their offices, this type of trip will be more likely to return. According to those interviewed by the firm, the need to keep up with its competitors and win business with key clients puts companies under increased pressure to travel again.

Similarly, the need to interact with assets (data centers and IT infrastructure) will have priority when resuming this corporate dynamic.

  1. Gradual recovery by economic sectors

Although the vast majority of industries have been affected by the COVID-19 crisis, some sectors have been more impacted than others. Given this situation, it is possible that in certain segments there will be more budgetary restrictions, which could slow down the pace of travel recovery. “Business travel is facing a long recovery of several years. Industry players will be the ones to act quickly. They will be the ones who must modify and adapt policies to the new needs that this new normal implies. A successful recovery for business tourism depends on this, ”said Miguel Ruiz.

The McKinsey firm reveals that industrial and production-oriented sectors (such as construction, real estate, machinery and equipment manufacturers and pharmaceuticals) can lead this gradual return.