The pandemic brought the travel industry to a grinding halt in 2020, bringing mass layoffs and furloughs to the airlines and the hospitality industry. Conference and convention centers were shuttered. Other headwinds contributed to the situation, including inflation, the war in Ukraine and more frequent severe weather incidents.
Remote work and the virtual meeting platforms that support it got a dramatic boost from the pandemic. They allowed many companies to continue to function more or less normally. As the crisis eased, businesspeople began to travel again on a limited basis. They reasoned that while virtual technology allows one to conduct most business activities, in-person interaction is still arguably the best way to build and maintain relationships, develop teams, increase skills and knowledge, and promote one’s business.
Still, it will be years before the industry fully recovers. According to the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), spending on global business travel hit an all-time high of $1.4 billion in 2019. GBTA forecasts a year-over-year increase in business travel after hitting a low of $661 million in 2020. However, they don’t expect the industry to surpass the $1.4 billion mark until 2026 at the earliest.
What do these business travel trends mean for the mobility industry?
The virtual international assignments heavily touted during the pandemic as an alternative to on-the-ground assignments are not coming to fruition. However, companies use Extended Business Trips and Short-Term Domestic Assignments more frequently as alternatives to permanent domestic relocations.
Sharply higher airfares and hotel rates (including charges for daily housekeeping and resort fees even at non-resort properties) are deterring unnecessary business travel. In addition, one-night business trips are in decline as many can be accomplished more efficiently and economically as virtual meetings. However, longer trips (several days up to one week) are returning to pre-pandemic norms.
Business travel is also increasingly intersecting with corporate Duty of Care and Sustainability initiatives. These considerations are increasingly important to employees and employers alike, and corporate travel policies are just one area where these two issues have created substantial changes.
TRC’s employee-owners are committed to making relocation less stressful and more successful. Learn more about the relocation process in light of today’s employee relocation trends and TRC’s relocation services. Contact Us.