The majority of business professionals miss travelling for business, according to a new survey by Hilton and Morning Brew. While some have returned to travelling for work, 87 per cent of respondents say they miss hopping from city to city to pursue their work.
More than 7,000 of the new site’s business readers were polled. Business travellers miss visiting new places (66 per cent), discovering local culture (41 per cent), discussing projects in person (37 per cent), and attending in-person conferences (36 per cent).
Here are five key takeaways on the future of business travel.
In-person connections matter
More than half (54 per cent) of those surveyed mentioned that the importance of building “in real life” (IRL) relationships is more apparent than ever. Simply put, during the pandemic, business travellers have missed building professional relationships (54 per cent) with others.
“Humans have an innate need to connect with each other, and the inability to do so during the pandemic highlighted the fact that there’s no replacement for the value of in-person connections,” said Mark Weinstein, Hilton’s senior vice president and global head, marketing and loyalty. “We know people miss business travel, but even more they miss connecting on a real level with clients, seeing a project up close, networking with colleagues and experiencing a new city.”
Innovations make business trips more productive
Of those surveyed, 47 per cent said amenities were extremely important, and many think hotels will offer more contactless experiences and feature automated and efficient check-in and check-out processes in the future, if they haven’t already.
“One of the biggest lessons we’ve learned during the pandemic is that innovation makes a big impact during good times and bad. We’ve always had our customers at the heart of everything we do, and the integration of physical and digital innovation is a priority for us,” said Weinstein.
Digital meetings are here to stay
While many would agree that video call fatigue is real, people aren’t turning off their cameras just yet. According to those surveyed, many think business travel will be a mixture of in-person and digital, saying they expect more online meetings and trainings and increased use of hybrid modalities for business events.
Weinstein noted, “Event planners are increasingly looking for spaces that allow a combination of on-site and expanded on-screen attendees, as well as seeking expert support to help them execute the events.”
Increased interest in “bleisure” travel
“Bleisure” travel, a popular practice pre-pandemic, is an economical way to explore a new city or locale, especially when an employer has already paid for transportation. Many travellers like to extend their stay into the weekend and invite a friend or partner to join them for the leisure portion of the trip, or taking advantage of alone time and explore a city solo. According to the survey, this includes things like eating at local restaurants (63 per cent) and exploring the city (61 per cent).
Wellness is top of mind more than ever
While the pandemic brought several challenges, many believed that some aspects of life improved under lockdown. From Shanghai to New York, people started to cook more meals at home and dramatically adjust their daily exercise routines. Now more than ever, wellness is top of mind, and business travellers will be more cognizant of it on the go.
In fact, 42 per cent can’t wait to partake in some much-needed alone time and 31 per cent look for hotels with spas and wellness centres to maintain their wellness routines.