Companies should adapt to a “new normal” in business travel, according to reports.
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The days of high-flying business travel and big spending may be over for good.
As a new report from research firm Morning Consult stated: Business travel will never return to normal.
Tighter corporate budgets and new ways of working virtually have permanently changed business travel, according to the report titled “Business, but Not as Usual”.
The report says demographics are also changing – business travelers are now younger and more likely to fly economy class, with around half earning less than $50,000 a year.
“The old stereotypes of spendthrift travelers spending on first-class tickets no longer hold water,” the report said.
According to the report, a different business travel model is slowly but surely taking root, crystallizing a “new normal” for the industry.
While leisure travel continues to grow globally, business travel to the United States stagnated last year, according to Morning Consult.
Its survey of some 4,400 Americans showed business travel — both domestic and international — grew just 1% in 2022.
Compared to before the pandemic, fewer people are traveling for business – and those who do travel do so less often, the report says.
Nearly a third of respondents said their company had changed its business travel policy, most often reducing the frequency of business travel (60%) or sending fewer employees on trips ( 56%). More than half (54%) said companies are also monitoring travel spending more closely.
According to Morning Consult, the biggest trips on the chopping block include corporate retreats, trade shows and incentive trips.
Survey respondents said they believe these changes were made to reduce costs, improve employee health and well-being, and because virtual meetings eliminated the need for some face-to-face meetings.
Senior business leaders in the survey also emphasized sustainability, which the report says is “a factor that is not related to temporary events or conditions.”
The report is based on a survey of 334 travel managers and executives overseeing the travel budget. It says one in three US companies – and around 40% of European companies – have indicated the need to cut employee travel spending by more than 20% to meet 2030 climate goals.
The report, titled “Navigating to a New Normal,” says climate concerns will likely affect business travel earnings for years to come.
Another report from Morning Consult, published last year, indicated that business travel was down in some countries more than in others.
Morning Consult asked business travelers, who traveled for work at least three times a year before the pandemic, when they planned to take their next business trip:
“At least half of French, British and German business travelers who frequently took business trips before the pandemic say they never will again,” said Lindsey Roeschke, travel and hospitality analyst at Morning Consult. “Other regions are more promising, however, including India, China and Brazil.”
As for how workers feel about their current travel schedules, most say they feel good, at least in the United States, according to Morning Consult’s February report.
Overall, 64% of American adults said they travel “the right amount” for work, while 29% said they wished they could have done more and 7% less, he said. declared.
Travel may not be growing by much, but corporate spending on business travel is growing rapidly, according to Deloitte’s report.
Business travel spending in the United States and Europe nearly doubled in the past year — and is on track to reach pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2024 or early 2025, a he declared.
While this may seem like some sort of full recovery, the report notes that businesses are having to spend more due to inflation and rising travel costs.
“Higher airfares and room rates are the biggest contributor to cost growth, and they’ve also become the No. 1 factor discouraging the number of trips taken,” he said.
According to the report, flexible bookings and employees’ desire for luxury business travel are also driving up costs.
Companies report saving money by choosing cheaper accommodation (59%), booking cheaper flights (56%) and limiting travel frequency (45%), according to Deloitte.
And nearly 70% said they were strategically weighing the need for travel – balancing factors like cost and carbon emissions with employee retention and revenue generation, the report said.
But there are several bright spots for those applauding the robust return to business travel, according to reports.
Spending on international business travel is expected to rise in 2023, according to Deloitte – to Europe, primarily for client work, and to the United States to connect with colleagues around the world at conferences.
Nearly two-thirds of business travelers said they expect to attend a conference or seminar this year as well, according to Morning Consult.
According to its report, “Bleisure” travel — which mixes business and leisure travel — is also on the rise, boosted by flexible working arrangements that began during the pandemic.
Employees often pay more for blended travel, the report notes, although many find it “worth the investment” because they can travel more often and for longer periods.