In the wake of the global pandemic, the world has witnessed a dramatic shift in the way businesses operate. Working remotely has become the new norm, with virtual meetings and digital collaboration tools enabling professionals to work from virtually anywhere.
However, despite the conveniences that remote work offers, we have also all seen its limits.
Indeed, while technology has definitely advanced and improved the way we communicate remotely, it simply is unable to capture the full spectrum of human connections. Yes, Teams and other virtual platforms are excellent for facilitating discussions between colleagues in different locales, but that said, in a world that increasingly craves genuine connection, virtual meetings are unable to replicate the handshake, the eye contact, the ability to crack a joke, and the shared experiences that occur during in-person interactions.
And that is why business travel has made a comeback in such a big way. People want, nay, need, to connect with one another in person again.
What Travelers Are Looking For
This shift back to business travel is borne out in the latest SAP Concur Global Business Travel Survey. In fact, it has become the remote worker and not the office employee who now craves business travel in a post-pandemic world. Consider:
- 38% of remote workers state that business travel is critical to forming meaningful connections with coworkers, whereas only 27% of office workers say the same, and
- 37% of remote workers say that business travel is needed in order to build stronger relationships with managers, while only 24% of office workers agree.
So yes, the nature of business travel is changing in this virtual, online, remote-work, post-Covid world. In fact, and maybe surprisingly, the biggest change just may be that business travel has actually become more important than ever.
Why is that? There are four main reasons:
1. The Need to Build and Strengthen Relationships
As indicated, one of the primary reasons why business travel remains crucial is its role in building and strengthening relationships. Face-to-face meetings and interactions provide opportunities to establish genuine connections with clients, partners, and colleagues. While virtual meetings can facilitate communication, nothing can replace the trust and rapport developed during in-person encounters.
And there is nowhere this is more true than when it comes to working with clients and customers. The fact is, face-to-face meetings and interactions are vital for maintaining and developing strong client relationships. Because they
- Build and maintain relationships
- Foster understanding and friendships, and
- Create the sort of trust that forms the foundation of successful, long-term business relationships.
2. Collaboration and Innovation
Collaborating online simply is not the same as collaborating and innovating in person, and the fact is, great businesses thrive on collaboration and innovation.
The synergy and creativity that stem from in-person brainstorming sessions and collaborative problem-solving just cannot be replicated online, try as we might. And that is another reason that business travel has become more important than ever.
We know we need it for our businesses to grow.
3. Employee Engagement and Well-Being
Remote work has undoubtedly offered flexibility, but it has also raised concerns about employee engagement and mental health. There are only so many hours one can look at a screen, right? So what is the solution?
Yes, you guessed it. Business travel.
Traveling for business can provide a much-needed change of scenery, reduce isolation, and boost morale, and the SAP Concur travel survey bore this out as well, with employees reporting that business travel is essential for maintaining a positive work-life balance. It also, and not insignificantly, helps them feel more engaged and connected to their work and colleagues.
4. Marketing and Expansion
Last, and as they say, certainly not least, for businesses looking to grow and extend their reach or enter new markets, business travel is indispensable. Meeting potential clients, exploring new territories, and networking with potential local partners are activities that really can only happen with business travel.
If you want new customers, if you want new territory, if you want greater market share, then business travel has to be part of your post-pandemic plans (and you can certainly bet it’s part of your competitors’ plans.)
How SAP Concur Travel Fits In
As business travel regains its importance, Concur Travel and Expense can play a pivotal role in helping small and medium businesses navigate this redefined landscape. The platform has evolved to support businesses in making more informed travel decisions by providing travelers with real-time information on safety and accommodation choices that align with health, safety, and sustainability priorities.
Not only that, but Concur Travel also is the industry leader in streamlining the planning and expense tracking processes, making it easy for businesses to manage their travel budgets effectively.
Same as it Ever Was
Except for that strange three-year pandemic period, business travel has always been important, vital even. What has changed is that that is all the more true now In this post-COVID world.
There is no doubt that business travel has rebounded and is proving its enduring value. Connecting with co-workers, clients, and prospective clients hinges on the authenticity, and while technology served as a useful as a pandemic era bridge, it cannot replace the depth, vitality, and authenticity meeting in-person offers.
And that’s why business travel, changing as it is, nevertheless remains a vital tool in any company’s business arsenal.
This blog is sponsored in partnership with SAP Concur. To learn more about how SAP Concur can support your business go to https://www.concur.com/en-us/small-business.