The COVID-19 pandemic put a pause on business travel, but according to according to new research commissioned SAP Concur, the world’s leading provider of integrated travel, expense, and invoice management solution, British business travellers are keen to see it return. The study, which questioned 500 UK business travellers and 100 UK travel managers, finds that almost all (99%) of business travellers are willing to travel for business again in the next 12 months and 65% actively want to. On top of this, travel managers expect to increase spend on business travel by an average of 33%.
According to the research, business travellers envisage a number of problems for their organisation if business travel does not restart within the next year. These include fewer deals being signed (33%), falling behind competition (32%) and even the possibility of the company going out of business (13%). From a personal perspective, business travellers believe that a failure to restart business travel will mean they make less money (39%) and struggle to advance their career (34%). On top of this, almost one-in-10 (8%) business travellers want to get back to business travel because their partner wants them out of the house
When business travel does resume, it is clear that business travellers will have heightened expectations. The research finds that the pandemic and travellers’ desire to be as safe as possible has definitely increased the demands of business travellers. These demands include the ability to choose direct flights (46%), to select premium seating (37%), and to book four or five star hotels (36%).
Commenting on the findings, Darryl McGarvey, Director of Channel Development at SAP Concur, said:
“The COVID-19 pandemic put a halt on business travel, but now we are starting to see restrictions lift it is clear that there is a strong appetite for business travellers to get back to business trips. Travellers understand the importance of business travel to the success of their organisation, as well as their own personal success. This return to business travel can have a really positive impact on employee wellbeing, as well as the British economy that relies upon businesses getting deals done.
Despite this appetite, employees’ expectations of their employer to protect their health and safety while traveling for business remain. After a year of being grounded by events beyond their control, employees are ready to return to business travel, but on their own terms. The actions that companies take in the next 12 months could make or break their ability to acquire and retain valuable employees amid a competitive market for talent. Organisations must ensure they are providing the business travel experience that their employees want, or fear risking them to competition that will.”