The rumbling business class: Business travel in times of Corona

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In times of Corona a business trip does not necessarily mean plane and hotel, but a laptop transfer from desk to sofa. The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) has published some very clear numbers.

Impacts of corona on business travel: MRP gives you important insights – and some solutions.

  • Online conferences will not completely replace business trips, but will definitely add to it
  • Congresses as a profit driver for hotels will possibly drop out for a little longer.
  • “jut in time spaces” could be a niche product in the near future

In times of Corona a business trip does not necessarily mean plane and hotel, but a laptop transfer from desk to sofa. The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) has published some very clear numbers. In Europe, over 95% of planned business trips were canceled or postponed. Simultaneously three-quarters of the respondents have indicated that they scheduled telephone conferences and virtual meetings instead.

In fact, also 60% of the GBTA respondents claimed that the Corona Crisis will lead to major change in their business practices. Which means, that also if travel will get back to “normal”, some business trips will be replaced by virtual meetings. Not only does this lower cost but also has a huge benefit for the environment and there is no excuse for any business to not take care of climate change. Therefore, employees who choose virtual meetings instead of plane flights, are making an important contribution to environmental protection.

All of this does not mean that business travel will completely die out as it is still seen as very important and necessary to get together in person to execute major negotiations or to prepare business initiations.

The level of business travel that was present before the crisis will be unreachable for a little while longer. The virus is transmitted fastest in closed rooms, which is why meetings are considered dangerous.

Conferences and other big events are far of the agenda, at the moment. Just to mention one example: in Europe, the „Genfer Autosalon“ was recently cancelled, not only for 2020 but also for next year in March. The format is for sale right now.

These are definitely no good news for the tourism industry. Especially, because business travel is with higher margins more attractive than the leisure industry. In addition, congresses influence the profitability of hotels significantly. Bookings are made much earlier and make planning easier.

How important congresses are can be justified by the reason that in the last five years one quarter of all hotel nights was booked by business travelers.

Hotels in the cities will have to rethink their strategies to a certain amount. For example, conference rooms, for which is very low demand right now could be offered for spontaneous meetings.

In the opinion of some consultants, the demand for rooms like that does exist as some businesses have given up their subsidiaries in some cities (caused by corona) but still want to be present in the area. One of Hiltons managers in the USA is seeing some silver lining on the horizon: “Small groups, sport teams or weddings, are slowly returning. But to completely get back to our “shining spirit“ that was present before corona spread, we need new medication or vaccine.”