These days, when someone asks what I do for work the next question invariably revolves around the future of the industry. Will business travel return? When and how much of it?
As anyone in travel knows, predictions from dinner-table futurists run the gamut from ‘we’ll be attending global conferences from our kitchen tables forevermore’ to a belief that the revenge travel phenomenon will spread to business travel and live events, and all will come roaring back. Actual data shows volumes up in some countries and regions, and not in others – consistent with vaccine rollouts, basically.
But the pandemic has a way of fogging up the crystal ball. New concerns about the delta variant is likely to have an impact on demand. What does that mean for personal decision making? Changing what you can, accepting what you can’t and having the wisdom to know the difference is a pretty healthy approach at this juncture.
Uncertain and OK with it
The overwhelming view among many senior scientists is that coronavirus is here to stay and that changes in behavior will likely carry on after restrictions have been lifted. With vaccine drives well underway in many countries –about 40% of the world’s population has received at least one dose - the focus for many is on a cautious and careful return to life as normal.
Good hygiene, not mixing with people when we have symptoms and following regulations will become part of life. Persuading a client to sign a major contract, interviewing an important new hire or inspecting a site: Some things need to happen in natural environments and not on a screen. The decision to travel, therefore, is highly individual.
Should you still plan a trip?
I took an essential trip in between vaccine doses from London to an amber list country that required more pricey, precision-timed nasal swabs in four days than you’d wish on a mortal enemy. Was it worth it? Utterly.
Only travel can light the fire of possibility. An entire city laid out below as you come in to land, a hilarious billboard that warrants an Instagram story, sharing anecdotes with a cab driver – these are all experiences that are unquantifiable for their contribution to inspiration, connection and productivity.
If you have your best ideas in the shower, you have them tenfold in a shower on foreign soil. The key is to keep abreast of developments and book in policy, “It will be more important than ever to clients that their employees are booking within policy because it means that clients will know where their travelers are at any moment in time, as any changes or modifications to the itinerary are instantly available,” says CWT’s CEO Michelle McKinney-Frymire in CWT’s podcast Business Travel on the Fly, “with the global coverage and 24/7 service that a provider like CWT can offer, keeping bookings within a preferred channel means travelers can reach an agent wherever they are in the world for support.”
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