The travel industry has been forecasting and reforecasting the return to business travel. What is rarely discussed is how the traveler’s expectations fit into these equations and what is trending by way of new approaches and planning for travel. Many companies are easing their approval parameters for both domestic and international travel while doing everything reasonably possible to ensure the safety and health of their employees.
A recent global distribution study identified a growing desire to travel with 75% of business travelers hoping to take a trip in 2022. Placing a high value on face-to-face interactions, the majority of business travelers put more importance on the in person relationship building and less on any inconvenience of wearing a mask or reduced hotel amenities.
Fewer Trips – Longer Duration: Business travelers are concentrating on a more coordinated approach to effective travel planning. Travelers are reducing the number of trips, and extending their stay an extra day or two to meet with more clients or colleagues, as well as build out events to maximize their time away from home. The study also identified that one in three business travelers expect to add a leisure element to at least one of their trips this year.
More Flexibility: Understanding we are in an ever-shifting dynamic of health and safety challenges, airlines are encouraging business travel and as such, are continuing to simplify and reduce costs for last minute cancellations and modifications to travel bookings. Travelers plan for last minute adjustments, and the industry is responding to make that simple while reducing the commercial impact to their companies.
Increased adoption of In-Policy Hotel and Car Bookings: As a general trend over the years, air booking compliance within policy management was enforced, however many travelers were left to their own booking preferences for hotel and car. With the reduced rental car inventory and shifts in hotel available amenities and safety protocols, more travelers are taking advantage of their corporate agreements and policy guidelines of their travel program, which in turn is increasing the policy guidelines with their preferred booking channels (whether online via Concur, or through a TI travel associate).
Adjusting to Changes in Hotel Services: The first time a traveler, whether leisure or business, returns to their room and it was not cleaned or serviced can be quite a shock. However, with many properties, these service options are not standard, but require special requests. Travelers are learning and adapting to sustainability measures of limiting the use of towels, and the daily bedding changes, and understanding that for extended stays of more than two nights, they should request for the room to be cleaned at least one time during their stay.
Mobile Access to Research Prior to Travel: Travelers are excited to get back on the planes, as well as explore the areas to which they are traveling. Prior to the pandemic, not much thought was given to research entry requirements for international beyond if their passport was current or if a Visa was required. Now they have the ability to easily access and research the destinations to have the comfort and confidence prior to that international trip.
Domestic travelers are also embarking on more pre-trip research, including neighborhood opportunities for exercise, or restaurant options as many hotels are just starting to ramp back up their buffet and restaurant options.