What does 2022 hold for your business trips?
A combination of factors will determine how often we pack our bags this year. First, increased sensitivity to carbon footprints will prompt companies to be more responsible and carefully consider the number of flights employees take. When Zoom is enough, this lunch in Brussels may not cut the mustard (even if there is always an argument in favor of a real face-to-face).
Second, even though a few executives such as Goldman Sachs boss David Solomon think remote working is an “aberration”, hybrid working (where people locate each other from a combination of a corporate office company, a home and a coworking space or a hotel, for example) is already adopted by many companies. This means time away from the office is no longer an obstacle. Third, international travel will be more complicated than before the pandemic, even with the vaccine, which means the hassle of going abroad must be worth it (and the risk).
All of this points to a defining trend of the 2020s which is “fly less, stay longer”. According to Reuters, Mars (as in Mars Bar) will keep business travel to less than half of pre-pandemic levels (meaning 145,000 fewer flights per year), taking the decision to save money , as well as environmental and health concerns.
Before the Covid crisis, entrepreneurs and freelancers who weren’t employed by large organizations were leading the “digital nomad” revolution – settling in beach resorts in Bali and trendy Airbnbs in Lisbon. Now the matcha-latte lifestyle is becoming accessible to “corporate nomads” who will benefit from more flexible travel policies that will allow – if not encourage – longer periods of time on the road, combining meeting clients and conducting daily activities. day work from remote locations. Hotels with coworking space — and coworking clubs such as Soho House that come with hotel rooms — will set new expectations for corporate hospitality.
While that might mean more time away from families, a major benefit could be the ability to airlift loved ones for “work.” Not so long ago, combining a vacation with a business trip was negotiable – this year, we’ll expect it. (Having said that, I really hope the word “bleisure” has become redundant.) Also, it will be young people (Gen Y and Gen Z) between the ages of 20 and 40 who drive the adoption of nomadism from company, because these born multitaskers are already familiar with a “mixed” work-life paradigm.
In June, spend management platform Emburse announced the results of a YouGov survey of 1,202 potential business travelers that gauged attitudes toward business travel. It revealed that 52% of young people aged 18 to 34 wanted to go on a business trip, compared to only 38% of people aged 55 and over. Overall, 26% of people said they would be very eager to explore new places.
Although we are unlikely to see business nomads traveling around Europe in motorhomes, train travel is likely to become the default way to travel across the continent. In fact, France has even gone so far as to ban short-haul flights between city pairs that already have good train connections (like Paris-Lyon) and are less than 500km apart. In 2024, French start-up Midnight Trains will upgrade the sleeper train experience with a ‘hotel on rails’ that will connect Paris to a dozen other cities including Madrid and Copenhagen, and offer corporate nomads private rooms, restaurant and bar. Just hope the wifi is good.