Although the last couple of years have presented unprecedented and significant challenges in traveling for work, business travel is predicted to be back on par by 2024. The arrival of the coronavirus pandemic had a dramatic effect on business travel, virtually halting the practice all together. Now, almost two years later, recent trends are showing work trips are slowly and incrementally increasing, leading experts to believe that the travel industry’s recovery will be within reach soon.
What Is Prolonging the Return of Business Travel to Pre-Pandemic Levels?
When the pandemic initially surged in the United States in 2020, life for many stood virtually still. As the world navigated its way through the following months and years, new challenges continued to arise and remained an obstacle in the return to normal for business travel.
Some challenges businesses will continue to face include:
Since the first strain of coronavirus began spreading, the virus has mutated into a number of subsequent variants, each with its own set of defining characteristics and health concerns. The contagiousness and severity of these strains have made traveling more of a challenge, especially in areas that are considered temporary hot spots for any particular variant.
Thanks to the pandemic, a large percentage of employees are currently working from home as part of their company’s current policy. A company that permits their employees to temporarily work from home are less likely to send those same individuals on work assignments to other locations. However, as employees begin returning to corporate office spaces, this is expected to change.
Company travel cuts
With many businesses having employees suddenly work from home in 2020, some companies’ budgets took a hit. While most are now open, rising inflation is continuing to impact corporate budgets, causing travel cutbacks to be made.
Supply chain issues
What is being coined ‘the great resignation’ is creating more kinks in an already broken supply chain. Without enough workers to make, move, and deliver supplies, shortages are becoming a part of daily life.
Government travel restrictions
Pre-pandemic international business trips were the norm, but with new government travel restrictions regarding COVID testing and protocol, international travel dramatically declined, but it is now beginning to rise again.
Despite these barriers, business travel continues to persist and even shows signs of resiliency now and for the foreseeable future.
The World May Not Be Ready, But Traveling Executives Are
With the many changes society has endured in the last couple of years, many describe an overwhelming urge to get back to normal and return to a more familiar pace of life. Traveling executives are no exception.
More than three quarters of a recent group of hundreds of global business travelers said they felt that travel better equipped them to achieve their corporate goals, according to a Global Business Travel Association poll. An almost equal percentage said they were beginning to see domestic travel rates soar again at levels that were close to what they were pre-pandemic.
5 Ways to Make Business Travel Easier Amidst Coronavirus
As of early 2022, the airline industry is already noticing an increase in the number of travelers taking to the skies each week, and many of them are on business trips.
While it is true that the ever-changing effects of this virus on travel can make work trips a challenge, here are five ways to make business travel easier and safer amidst coronavirus:
- Be flexible. Between staffing shortages and canceled flights, it is essential that travelers be flexible. Expect for there to be some hiccups along the way and focus on a way to respond to them in a positive manner. If you have a meeting on Monday afternoon, it might be safer to catch a flight on Saturday or Sunday to ensure that even with a delay or two you make it to your business engagement on time.
- Bring your vaccination card, if you have one. Should you have a vaccination card, it can be wise to bring it along with you. More dining establishments, clubs, and entertainment venues are requiring proof of vaccination to be a patron. Even if the location you plan to travel to does not require the card for indoor dining, an unexpected layover could be a possibility and that location may very well require the proof of vaccination for participation in some activities.
- Have a multi-day supply of masks. At the time of print, the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is putting a face mask requirement for individuals across multiple transportation networks until at least March 18, 2022, with few exceptions. Masks are required and failure to wear one could result in a civil penalty fine and/or being asked to vacate the premises. Be prepared and play it safe by bringing a multi-day supply of masks.
- Stay current on international COVID testing rules. As the prevalence of different variants rise and fall, business travelers must stay on top of the latest international testing rules to ensure they meet the requirements for traveling. Be sure to stay aware of any COVID testing rules for the country you are visiting, as well as any requirements your own country would have before returning home.
- Utilize corporate housing. As executives begin taking both domestic and international trips again, many are hesitant to stay in locations that host a high number of guests, some of which are traveling for leisure. Corporate housing is a favorite option for executives as this lodging is frequented primarily by business minded guests with locations that are fully furnished, spacious, and feature all the conveniences of home. Corporate housing apartments feature a full-size kitchen and private laundry area in each unit, allowing for more privacy and social distancing.
As business travel is expected to be back on par by 2024, begin working with a reputable corporate housing company now to establish a trustworthy relationship with professionals that understand what you need and work hard to provide it. These professionals are experts in finding lodging solutions at your destination as well as letting you know about any local, state, and/or country restrictions that are expected to be in place during your stay.