More than half of business travelers (61%) have already taken their first multi-day domestic business trip of the year, according to a Global Rescue survey of the most experienced travelers in the world.
“Business travel is returning due to climbing COVID-19 vaccination levels and the gradual reduction in government quarantine and testing requirements. Nevertheless, post-pandemic travel trepidations linger,” said Dan Richards, the CEO of Global Rescue.
International business travel is growing but at a much slower pace. According to the survey, 17% of business travelers have already taken their first multi-day international business trip of the year. A little more than a quarter (27%) expect to do so between now and March 2022. Forty-five percent have no plans for international business travel.
“Never have business leaders been more aware and more concerned about the duty of care they have to their traveling employees,” Richards said. “Today, the risk profile for business travel is different, and business traveler awareness is at its highest levels,” he added.
More than half of survey respondents (54%) who travel for business reported that their company is using, or going to use, a hybrid model of work on- and off-site.
“If the pandemic demonstrated anything about remote working, it is that productive work can be done from almost anywhere – and people are going to take advantage of that,” Richards said.
Most of the business travelers (61%) said that a hybrid work model will not reduce their business travel despite the availability of online conferencing apps like Zoom, Webex by Cisco, and Microsoft Teams.
According to the survey, video conferencing will have a mixed impact on business travelers. Thirty-five percent of business travelers said they expect video conferencing to replace about half of routine business travel in the future. Another 27% said they expect to use video conferencing sparingly and return to routine business travel for in-person business and sales meetings as the pandemic health threat abates.
Sixteen percent said they believe video conferencing will replace most of the business travel for in-person business meetings and sales meetings. More than a fifth (21%) said they don’t use video conferencing in their business.
“While video conferencing will likely reduce total business travel volume in the near term there is no substitute for being in the same room with others,” Richards said. “While the days of traveling long distances for one meeting with one person could be gone forever, people will travel for business at scale into perpetuity.”
Ninety percent of business travelers surveyed said in-person business and sales meetings are “without a doubt” or “generally” more successful than video conferencing. Nine percent said video conferencing was more successful than in-person business and sales meetings.
The biggest concerns about future work-related travel among business travelers are being quarantined (29%), being infected with coronavirus (30%), border closing (23%), poor medical infrastructure at their destinations (10%), and insufficient emergency response by their company to help during a medical or security emergency (6%).
“Mitigating those risks falls to an organization’s chief security officer, travel manager and human resources director, who are accountable for the development and oversight of policies, programs and logistics that protect traveling staff,” Richards said. “Employees turn to them to do everything possible to keep them as safe as possible. CEOs rely on them, too, because they carry a duty of care responsibility to their people, to take care of them and avoid exposing them to any unnecessary or undue risk,” he added.