Business travel patterns will shift as many employees continue to work from home at least some of the time.
While some meetings will remain virtual, a report from American Express and American Express Global Business Travel says 69% of “decision makers” believe remote work could lead to more business travel.
David Reimer, executive vice president for global clients and general manager at American Express Global Business Travel, says: “As we’ve heard from clients and this survey confirmed, many corporate decision makers are looking for support on how they should evolve travel policies to drive employee confidence to get back to travelling for work.”
The Back to Blue Skies report reveals 83% of decision makers see business travel returning to pre-pandemic levels in the next two years.
Opinions vary widely on whether business travel will fully recover, with Bill Gates commenting that more than 50% of business travel would disappear after the pandemic.
Others believe that the need for face-to-face contact and the drive to bring back sales will help build volumes again.
Further details from the report reveal 86% of business travellers are looking forward to getting back on the road once it is deemed safe.
There is a correlation between business travel and higher profit and revenue according to 85% of decision makers.
Business travellers also say business travel plays a role in professional development, 85% and 90% of decision makers agree that business travel adds to professional growth.
Respondents, 82% of business travellers and 79% of decision makers, also say the benefits of in-person meetings are greater than virtual meetings.
In addition, almost 80% of business travellers prefer in-person collaborative meetings compared to virtual and 78% prefer in-person sales meetings over virtual.
More than 50% of business travellers also cite assessing professional chemistry and gauging real-time response as their biggest challenges for creating new business relationships.
As business travel starts again, the report says 73% of decision makers want guidance on what their travel policy should look like to ensure safety and 78% says policies will be different to before the pandemic.
Another recent report highlighted optimism from business travellers on the return but revealed staff shortages would be a challenge.
More than 1,000 business travellers and 500 decision makers were involved in the report.