None of us know when or how the business travel sector will recover. Corporations and business travellers have been shut down, locked down and subsequently a virtual world of meetings, webinars and events have been created. New habits and behaviours have emerged, and some will stay.
The only certainty in the business travel industry is that uncertainty will dominate the entire sector over the next decade, particularly in light of recent events.
People Love to Travel, Business People Need to Travel
Coronavirus will not kill the business travel industry but, it may change it significantly.
We are living in unprecedented times and difficult changes will follow in the coming months, as businesses re-open and employees get back to work.
The business travel sector must become more innovative, more competitive and even more relevant. Research from previous recessions and downturns have taught us that freed from the usual constraints; companies and their employees will become more resourceful and creative.
Will the TMC Sector Transform?
The TMC already had a number of hurdles to jump before the effects of the pandemic. Technology was changing every aspect of how people travel - wearable devices, mobile payment, virtual and mixed reality, artificial intelligence, chatbots - to name a few!
Much of this technology was centred around an experience culture and demand for a personalised service from Millennials. Will this change? No, but it will evolve.
The need for personalisation will be influenced by new requirements i.e. distance and perceptions of health-related risks tied to flying; and visiting highly populated urban areas.
Experiences are more likely to be dominated by open spaces and countryside, rather than big city breaks. Airlines will be chosen for cleanliness, boarding procedures, middle-seat blocking, HEPA filtration, health-screening and thermal cameras. Hotels will have to reassure guests on cleaning protocols for rooms and public areas, heat-scanning guests on arrival and no-contact rule between staff and guests.
Duty of Care
Business travel will recover more quickly, once confidence is restored. Companies and employees need to know that their Duty of Care requirements can be met. They will need to be confident that TMC staff can react quickly and support them in any crisis or event, but particularly in relation to health and safety.
Business Travel - Vital to the Global Economy
Business travel is vital to the infrastructure of business and will continue to have an impact on the global economy. As we speak, company leaders and executives are already changing business objectives and strategies for the difficult journey back to economic recovery. One of their top priorities will be how to drive revenue and that is likely to increase their business travel budgets over the next few years.
Business travel employees will revisit existing skills and learn new ones. They will need to adapt to the "new normal" in the marketplace; understanding new trends, new technologies, new regulations and new client policies.
Active learning has never been more important and those that embrace it will thrive and succeed in the months ahead.
Do you work in the business travel industry? Are you in lock down? It's time to look forward to the next phase in our industry. To receive more information on What's Next for Business Travel Management, click below to receive more bulletins in this series.