Four in five frequent travellers’ jobs impacted by the lack of cross-border business travel

In a year of working-from-home and video calls, new research conducted by Collinson demonstrates the importance of business travel recovery. 

  • More than four in five (81%) business travellers have, despite video conferencing technology, seen their job negatively impacted by the lack of cross-border business travel
  • 93% of Indian business travellers have been affected by a lack of cross-border travel, while 40%say it’s made their business less productive
  • 42% Indian respondents say not seeing their clients and prospects face-to-face has negatively impacted the way they do business
  • Globally, one third of respondents said not being able to travel for business had made their company less productive, with 38%Indian respondents admitting they felt unable to do their job effectively as a result. 

New research by Collinson has found that four in five business travellers have seen their job affected by a lack of cross-border business travel, and a third of respondents stated that not seeing clients face-to-face has negatively affected the way they do business. It is commonly thought that business travel recovery will be slower than that of leisure travel, due to businesses continuing to function during the pandemic without travel. As per global statistics,a third of business travellers are stating thatthe lack of travel has made their company less productive, while 38% of Indian respondents are saying that they have felt unable to do their job effectively.These new findingsdemonstrate the economic importance of cross-border business travel.

The survey results – which compare datacollected from a total of 18,500 travellers in late 2019 (pre-pandemic)with data collected from 12,607 travellers in late 2020 (during the pandemic), demonstrate that while the majority of business meetings are now conducted via video call, there is a growing need and desire amongst a large number of business travellers to recommence travel.

From a business perspective, this has been the year of the Zoom call, with 93% of Indian businesstravellers affected by a lack of cross-border business travel (much higher than the globalaverage of 81%), with 42% saying not seeing their clients and prospects face-to-face has negativelyimpacted the way they do business.40% also said not being able to travel for business had made their organisation less productive,while 38% said they’d lost deals because of it.It’s clear that travel restrictions have impacted business travellers’ roles significantly. However, as businesses consider restarting cross-border business travel, the challenge remains in making sure employees don’t feel it comes at a cost to their health and wellbeing.

Post-pandemic, corporate wellbeing initiatives will be high on the agenda of companies globally. Employees that need to travel for work should be able to do so with confidence, knowing that their company is providing them full support. More than half (51%) of business travellers interviewed in our pre-COVID survey said their employer expected them to prioritise keeping the cost of travel low over their wellbeing. Add to this that only half of business traveller’s pre-pandemic knew their employer had invested in some form of travel risk management (TRM) programme to assist them on the road, some 51% of those weren’t sure what it meant or entailed. Of those who knew this was available to them, only a fifth felt confident using the services in the event of something going wrong abroad. Getting business travel back on the road is going to require a strong focus on ensuring that employees’ wellbeing is prioritised and that there is not just adequate support in place, but that employees clearly understand what is available.

David Evans, Joint CEO of Collinson, said, “The research shows a tension between the importance of business travel, which employees say allows them to do their job better and makes businesses more productive, and caring for them while travelling. In order to make business travellers feel comfortable travelling again, it won’t just be a question of COVID-19 measures such as testing and vaccinations. Communication is key, and as such, employers and their medical assistance and TRM service partners need to take a holistic approach regarding traveller wellbeing. This can include propositions directly addressing travel stress concerns such as access to lounge or working together with TRMsolutions providers to explain exactly what’s on offer through theseprogrammes and how employees can access these services. This is an opportunity for businesses to understand what their employees want from the future of corporate travel and build this into their programmes to offer the right supportand provide a great experience for employees, partners and clients when taking to the skies again.”

Priyanka Lakhani, Commercial Director, Middle East and Africa and Director South Asia,  Collinson added, “Like most of the world, our research shows that respondents from India are quite concerned with their physical, mental and emotional wellbeing when travelling. In today’s current environment, where business meetings are taking place over Zoom calls, many people have claimed that not seeing their clients and prospects face-to-face has negatively impacted the way they do business. Despite this acknowledgement of the value of business travel, employees are wary of getting on the move without the right physical space and hygiene protocols. Travellers want assurances on social distancing measures, socially distanced spaces to sit and relax in, and have hand sanitizers throughout the airport, for instance – and it’s important that companies are aware of and responding to their travelling employees’ expectations, while meeting Duty of Care requirements. Supporting responsible businesses with their TRM requirements – particularly in light of the soon to publish travel risk management Standard ISO 31030 – and continuing to help implement safe and robust testing protocols remains a key focus of ours to help get business travellers in the sky again.


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