Back On The Move. 3 Trends For Today’s Business Travelers
“What’s in your backpack”? This is the opening line used by George Clooney while delivering motivational speeches in the movie Up In The Air, where he played the role of a traveler with a career that kept him on the road all year round. Despite the fact that the movie was launched more than 10 years ago, it seems to have anticipated a lifestyle that many have begun to adopt recently, namely, living in a suitcase.
The last couple of years has led many of us to ask ourselves questions about our real needs. At least for some, the idea of packing only the essentials into a suitcase and exploring other geographical territories, it can sound pretty exciting.
Flexibility and the freedom to work and travel more are now on many employees’ priority lists. These changes are not only reflected in the way people work, but also in the way they travel.
If before the pandemic, digital nomads and employees with jobs that involved frequent business trips were the only ones on the road, remote working has changed the face of business travel for good. Basically, the lines between leisure and business travel are becoming even blurrier than they were before 2020.
Since trips to the customer’s HQs or other company locations have been replaced by video conferences and ZOOM meetings, business trips have become less frequent, especially since they cost more and have a greater impact on the environment. However, business travel doesn’t stop here. It simply changes its shape, as it now has to meet different needs and expectations.
As many companies call their employees back to the office and as statistics show, employees are not exactly happy about it, business travel can become an interesting perk in the benefits basket for them.
According to a global survey on business travel and technology conducted by Expedia’s business travel division, 70% of business travelers find business travel more enjoyable than time spent in the office.
In fact, many employees can’t imagine giving business trips up for good and would even accept a lower paid job in exchange for this type of benefit.
What are the trends shaping up the way we travel?
1. From bleisure to workation: longer journeys that blend business with pleasure
Employees want to travel and have more free time, work and have more enjoyable experiences. Well, this is nothing new. The mix of work and leisure, known as “bleisure” (business + leisure), has been around for more than 10 years now. Before, when traveling for work, employees would stick a little longer around and get a few days extra to relax and explore the surroundings.
Although business travel has been largely affected by the COVID crisis, travel did happen during this period. Trips have become longer, often to far-flung places, giving rise to what is now called “workation“, a very appealing new trend, with more and more employees opting for a remote work style.
2. Company retreats
Another trend that has emerged lately are company retreats, i.e. a kind of “holiday” with colleagues you may have not met before, where you work, participate in workshops and engage in conversations.
The retreat has proven to be a preferred solution for companies that operate 100% remotely and have no HQs. Many of them are startups that need to define their organizational culture and build a sense of belonging, which is something many employees felt missing in the past two years.
While this is an expensive alternative, it remains in the cards for some of the companies embracing remote working. Recently, startups offering retreat services for companies have obtained significant funding, a sign that the retreat market has a lot of potential and that this trend is here to stay.
3. Return to base
While an employee retreat can be a challenge for a company’s budget, here’s a useful option for organizations with offices and remote employees: return to base. That is, from time to time, you call your employees “home” from all over the world.
This solution is suitable for companies that no longer put office-based work at the heart of the employee experience and give employees enough freedom to decide where and how to work.
Videoconferencing is not a 100% substitute for business travel and travel remains a tool for business growth but also the ideal solution for sensitive situations, in which case, a face-to-face meeting is the best course to follow. Last but not least, trips are considered an incentive for employees working in the office.
However, let’s not forget that while some employees enjoy traveling, others perceive it more as an unpleasant professional obligation: the stress of flying and changing their routine while being away from their families for a few days makes it a total burden.
Although safety-related concerns remain a crucial factor on people’s minds when it comes to traveling more, many employees are thirsty to explore more and are ready to be on the move again. But this time, in a different manner: they want longer periods for reaching further destinations and a better mix of work and leisure (bleisure). To make this happen, all they need is flexibility.