How Business Travel is Reinventing Itself

As countries and their airlines grapple with the impact of health protocols on flights, passengers, and crew members, experts in the industry are pointing out that business travel is reinventing itself slowly but significantly.  

As the economy rebounds, many corporations would focus on regional domestic travel first, before sending their assignees and their executives to international ones. 

According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), intercontinental travel would be the last to resume. It makes sense for companies to allow business travel to areas and cities that are nearby, with the short distance presumably making the trip faster and safer. Neither would they have to contend with the health regulations and airline protocols that can vary from country to country. 

The companies do not just limit their options to air travel, either. Demand is spiking for ticket trains and car rentals.

Newly installed medical policies and regulations are also changing business travel. To begin with, assignees do want that assurance that their risks to exposure to coronavirus will be minimized. 

As pointed out by The Wise Marketer, health insurance that covers treatment for COVID-19 is no longer an option, but essential. 

Business travelers are also asking their companies to foot the costs for medical services and quarantine accommodations in case they do contract the virus during an official trip. They will be asking their HR and global mobility manager for clear guidelines for protection while they are staying in hotels or waiting for a trip in a bus terminal or an airport.

This concern is being returned by transport companies, especially the airlines. To date, four major ones—American, Delta, Frontier, and Jet Blue—are requiring passengers to wear face masks or face shields from the time they enter the airport to the time they board the plane. 

If not managed properly, these precautionary measures can scare off a lot of the business travelers for the long-term. Ironically, The Global Web Index names one specific factor that can motivate them to go beyond their fears, resulting in a trend called Bleisure or Business and Leisure Travel.

Essentially, professionals who are wary of taking important business trips for medical reasons can be persuaded to do so if they can indulge in personal pleasures along the way.

Think about it: after being cooped up for weeks or months, many of these assignees and executives, who have made travel a habit or a lifestyle, would be missing their old and favorite destination spots. 

If allowed to finally take a trip to the next state to attend a business meeting, they would want to squeeze time in to find a safe and probably private beach where they can relax. 

In the Global Web Index survey, the number one reason to motivate business travelers to take that trip is not to close a deal or win that bonus, but to explore new places (29%). 

The second reason, named by 25% of the respondents, is to discover a space where they can relax and have precious “Me-Time.” The more professional reasons come in third to fifth places:  building the network (24%); re-establish ties personally with their clients and suppliers (24%); and diversify their work life (24%).

All signs point to business travel returning in the U.S. Some companies are already planning to send their teams to conventions in the nearest states and regions. Just expect it to be different after COVID-19:  travel will be inseparable from health, wellness, and leisure.