Will business travel re-bound?

By | Category: Travel tips & opinions

It seems to be perceived logic that domestic travel will return first, then short-haul followed by long-haul and finally business travel.

cartoon of passenger rushing to catch a flight
Will business people return to travel in the same numbers as before the pandemic © Dan Sperrin

The doubts about business travel are based on two things. The first is that Zoom and other video conferencing tools have altered the way business meets. the second is that businesses might be reluctant to send their business people away so often.

Eric Yuen, the boss of Zoom, even forecast that Zoom attendees in the future will be able to feel their hands being shaken and smell coffee in their virtual space”

But why, readers might ask, is Just about Travel writing about business tourism when it is an e-zine for consumers?

The reason is that they are intertwined.

As business people generally pay more their airline seats, it enables airlines to keep prices done for us economy passengers.

In between meetings, business people visit theatres, restaurants and other attractions near to where they are based. That helps the industry as a whole.

If business travel is slow to reach its 2019 figures again, fares might rise for the rest of us. If it doesn’t reach those heights again because of videoconferencing and a reluctance by companies to send people on trips, we might have to get used to an era of higher costs.

Last week, Eduardo Santander, the head of the European Tourism Commission told an ADARA webinair that he thought business travel might never come back to the levels it had previously been. As an influential figure in EU circles and tourism generally his words will make governments that have built conference centres, property developers who have built up-market hotels and airlines that have stretched their first and business class sections longer might need to re-think their future plans.

The one-day flight for a business trip might become a thing of the past. Businesses might not sanction visits unless it is for a couple of days in which case theatres and restaurants might suffer as well as hotels and airlines.  

The future might be Premier Inns, Ibis and Travelodge rather than Ritz-Carltons, Four Seasons and Peninsular Hotels.

And that might not be to the benefit of the wallets of the rest of us!

No-one seems to question that there is still an appetite for travel. It’s just what sort of travel it will be.

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