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The Future of International Business Travel

With the pandemic (hopefully) entering its final phase, businesses are considering how they’ll operate in a post-covid world.


One of their major considerations is the future of business travel, and this is hardly surprising. The last 15 months have been a disaster for the aviation industry. Corporate trips remain around 70% below their pre-pandemic levels, and it remains unclear whether they will ever recover to their prior state.


Influential figures such as Bill Gates have argued that half of all business travel is permanently gone. And he’s not alone – 20% of American executives feel the same, according to a CNBC study. Of those who think it will return, 49% think it will take 2-3 years before travel gets back to normal.


But there are signs that confidence is returning. Research from the International Air Travel Association reveals that 62% of respondents are likely to travel less after the virus is contained. And though that figure is still high, it has been falling in the past nine months: 72% expected reduced travel, when asked in September 2020.


Companies have spent the pandemic adjusting to a new state, and many have discovered they can still operate effectively with a lower travel budget. When considering future travel, especially on international level, they will have to make a frank assessment of ROI. Perhaps business trips were taken as a given before – but now, if they go ahead, organisations will have a greater duty to prove their business utility.


And whilst organisations have spent the pandemic accelerating their digital transformations and remote working policies, they’ve also grown more aware of the necessity of human contact in certain situations. And for that reason, it’s hard to believe that international travel will never recover. After all, we had a pandemic a century ago, but that hardly cast a permanent shadow over people travelling abroad. In fact, people forgot about the Spanish Flu enough to be completely wrong-footed by the current pandemic!


It’s one thing to have a Teams call with other people in your company to go through routine matters – but if you’re pitching the biggest deal of your life to a new client, you’ll want to be in the same room. And if that means travelling halfway round the world, many businesses will still consider that a worthwhile investment of time and money.


If you want to discover how business has changed in the last fifteen months, book your tickets to the UK Business Awards now!