Not a single industry has been spared in the wake of the pandemic, with every single company trying to find ways to stay afloat, and many doing their best to protect their employee collectives.
In the midst of all the lockdowns, quarantine, and restrictions, the travel industry has taken quite a hit, and not just from the perspective of casual vacations and tropical getaways.
Business travel has officially come to a halt, aside from those few globally essential instances, and in countries where the numbers of COVID-19 patients has dropped significantly.
Most businesses have switched to remote work altogether, so not only do companies have to limit their cross-border travel plans, but they also do their best to send their staff home.
Now, as the pandemic is still in full swing across the globe, most business owners and travelers wonder to what extent this situation will impact their long-term travel plans. What about that annual e-commerce conference? Or the teaching seminar that is perfect for employee training?
As these and many other questions arise, we can expect numerous changes to come to light as the pandemic unravels.
Here, we’ve listed a few expected changes in the world of business travel that will disrupt the industry and that will force businesses to adapt and evolve over time.
1. Health screenings are the new must
Business travel is not just an issue of possibility, but also one of employee willingness. More professionals are reluctant to travel abroad even as restrictions ease away, since the risk of getting sick is still present, and many have family members with debilitating and chronic health issues at home.
So, in order to ensure travelers’ peace of mind as well as that of the officials, health screenings are becoming essential.
In addition to standard tests and medical checkups, some destinations will and have already introduced specific preventative measures. Take Finland as a perfect example, introducing COVID-sniffing dogs at Helsinki airport to spot infected individuals even if the test fails to do so.
Innovative and cost-effective solutions such as this one will surely help the travel industry recover and travelers feel at ease.
2. Turning to virtual events
It is inevitable to assume that the future will hold less business travel and less overall travel. Yes, there will be a need for networking and attending events, and traveling for business will remain a valid option, but not to the same extent.
In an attempt to mitigate the reduced travel opportunities, networking, training, and building long-lasting professional relationships will heavily fall upon all things virtual.
In addition to in-house online workshops and video conferencing instead of meetings in person, global networking will be empowered with the help of similar, if not the same digital tools.
In fact, digital events will become helpful in more ways than one. They’ll help companies restore their financial stability, as well, since the cost of running an online event is significantly lower than that of organizing an actual event where people will be physically present.
Knowing that companies will leverage online meetings, group video conferencing, educational seminars, and all kinds of online content to retain and grow their professional relationships well after the pandemic.
3. Choosing destinations carefully
Companies will be exceptionally vigilant not just when choosing the airlines and the accommodation options to stay on the safe side, but they’ll also be more mindful when choosing their destinations. Countries such as New Zealand with a great track record of tackling the pandemic will stay on the top of the travel-friendly lists for companies everywhere.
Thorough planning will remain key in staying safe even in the most promising destinations, so business travelers will take care of local transportation, too, as well as local visits and accommodation.
In response, business travelers will only select a reputable car rental in Auckland and other New Zealand cities so that they can safely travel locally and stay in charge of their travel plans. This approach will help reduce the risk of spreading the virus and it will enable companies to only hire trustworthy local businesses to keep their employees safe.
4. Your packing essentials will change
Although airports, bus terminals, and train stations will all invest in elevated hygiene, business travelers will also be expected to go the extra mile, pardon the pun.
In response to the pandemic, your list of business travel essentials will also change to encompass more than your basic wearables and tech. You’ll also need to focus on hand sanitizers, protective face masks, disinfecting wipes, and portable thermometers, too.
Investing in other travel essentials will become necessary, too, such as more comprehensive health insurance policies and medical checkups immediately before the trip.
Although this has always been a priority for most businesses, in the wake of the pandemic, employees will rightfully refuse to travel without proper coverage. This will give business travelers the peace of mind to visit other countries knowing that they will receive the necessary care should they get infected.
5. Local business travel vs. international business travel
For global corporations and even small-scale businesses with a global presence, international events and client meetings are more than a luxury.
They are a part of their brand culture, essential for networking, and vital for brand awareness and visibility. Although some events can take on a digital format, the travel industry will adapt in yet another way: switching to local instead of international events.
If you can reach your destination by taking a bus or a train, or even by driving there, the chances of attending a local event are all the greater.
Business travelers will need to focus on locally available events, training opportunities, and networking to stay in touch with their target demographic.
6. Loyalty in the post-pandemic era
On the other end of the spectrum, the travel industry will need to find creative ways to win back more than just lost profit – companies will need to work hard to earn customer loyalty after the pandemic ends.
In fact, creative loyalty programs in the travel industry will be the pillar of earning back customer trust and getting back on the right track with their established partners.
For business travelers, this is a matter that will be extremely relevant, since fair prices and fair treatment will help companies travel safely and know which travel brands they can trust.
7. Hygiene is a top-selling point
Protocols have already changed to a great extent when it comes to domestic and international travel. You are obligated to wear a mask, use hand sanitizers, and you are constantly reminded to keep that recommended distance to avoid direct contact with other passengers.
Social distancing, which is expected to persist long after the pandemic comes to a close, will dictate other travel restrictions, such as flight frequency, number of allowed passengers, and most of all, behavioral patterns of all those traveling will need to change.
Knowing that airlines as well as hotels and other forms of accommodation will not only emphasize the mask-wearing rules but also provide travelers with hygiene essentials during travel. Airports, bus terminals, and train stations will also be adapted to mimic the same necessity for better cleanliness.
Moreover, even in marketing and advertising, brands in the travel industry will emphasize their cleanliness efforts, turning them into selling points for business travel and long-term travel partnerships.
Over time, it is expected that travel will recuperate and go back to some semblance of normal, business travel included. Until then, companies will need to adapt and follow these and similar strict rules and regulations, and even enact some of their own in-house travel policies to keep their employees safe and to prevent the spread of the disease.
Even though video conferencing and other forms of remote collaboration will help companies stay connected with their employees, partners, and customers, we all hope that business travel will soon be restored to some of its former glory – and that will only be possible if we limit and manage our travel plans according to these pandemic-tailored restrictions for the time being.
Disclaimer. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of IdeasPlusBusiness.com.
Any content provided by our bloggers or authors is of their opinion and is not intended to malign any organization, company, individual, or anyone or anything.
For questions and inquiries on the blog, please send an email to the Editor at ideasplusbusiness[at]gmail[dot]com. You can also follow IdeasPlusBusiness.com on Twitter here and like our page on Facebook here.
This website contains affiliate links to some products and services. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links at no extra cost to you.
Lilly Miller is a Sydney-based graphic designer and a passionate writer. Loves everything about home decor, art history, and baking. She shares a home with two loving dogs and a gecko named Rodney.