Justin EH Smith, a professor of history and philosophy at the University of Paris makes an interesting observation about life in quarantine, "there is liberation in the suspension of more or less everything." Faced by isolation and boredom, people are already reconsidering their lifestyle and habits prior to the pandemic.
Market researchers such as Alex Quicho, the associate director of cultural intelligence at Canvas8, are closely monitoring how our post-pandemic selves will navigate the world.
Historically, responses to pandemics have followed a pattern of five stages:
5. New Normal
Most of the world has followed Stage 1 and 2 and is now at Stage 3: Adjustment. After the adjustment period follows a time of Re-evaluation; essentially, a time in which people decide which behavioural changes they made during a crisis they will abandon, and which they will sustain, explains Quicho.
Early market research by Kantar reveals that some industries are predicted to suffer, due to potentially lasting fundamental social shifts i.e. luxury goods and online entertainment. However, people intend to resume spending money on many pre-quarantine pleasures like eating in restaurants (82%) and travelling (78%).
Experts predict that safety measures taken today will become a part of society’s “new normal”, with recurring periods of quarantine lockdown. Consequently, we, like our world will change.
Every client is different, and this won’t change. Some business traveller’s behaviour may change as they question their work/life balance and their need to travel as much. So new disruptors may strengthen their position e.g. cloud-based video conferencing. The conscious business movement will also likely strengthen as companies adopt more beneficial social or environmental practices.
So, early signs in other markets illustrate that fundamentally, people are keen to resume face-to-face contact and they are keen to travel, but nobody knows if, or when travel volumes will reach pre-pandemic levels.
New Business Models
The effects left by coronavirus will force businesses to rethink their global value chains, which were shaped to maximise efficiency and profits. They will also face challenges to cover the costs of the effects of coronavirus, and this will involve streamlining operations and increasing efficiency.
The business travel industry has suffered more than most sectors. Airlines, hospitality, events companies, intermediaries and travel agents and TMCs will need to streamline operations and increase efficiency. Resilience will be the primary objective in the short to medium term.
More customer service staff may remain home-workers, either by design or by choice.
Once a niche skillset, digital skills are now going to be a workplace essential, as
business travel organisations will evolve some of their more traditional methods of customer service delivery. After the global pandemic new competitors may also emerge, as well as existing competitors evolving their business model to the “new normal”.
If you work in business travel, now is the time to think about what your role will be after lockdown. We've all been through the Denial and the Panic, and now we're Adjusting...so, the next stage is Re-Evaluation. To receive more information on What's Next for Business Travel Management, click below to receive more bulletins in this series.