March 27, 2024

In-Person Business Resurges Amid Virtual Meeting Fatigue

New data coming shows that business travel continues to increase post-pandemic, while virtual meetings are losing dominance.

Business travel is back. The days of traveling long distances for one meeting with one person could be gone forever, but people will travel for business at scale into perpetuity.

New data* plainly shows that business travel continues to increase post-pandemic, while virtual meetings are losing dominance. Respondents clearly felt like there was no substitute for business travel when it came to establishing and maintaining relationships, and that virtual meetings, though they serve a purpose, are never going to replace in-person conversations.

According to the survey, respondents traveling for business jumped 37% compared to survey results nearly a year ago. More than two-thirds (68%) of respondents said their business travel would be both international and domestic.

More than a fifth of business travelers (22%) reported work-related travel will exceed pre-pandemic levels in 2024, doubling the 11% reported in 2023. Early last year, 35% of business travelers said business travel would be “half or less than half” of pre-pandemic levels. Now, a year later, that percentage has dropped by a third with only 23% of business travelers reporting that their work-related travel would be half or less than pre-pandemic levels.

On the remote meetings side of things, more than half (56%) of business travelers responding to the survey said virtual meetings and video conferences are not replacing in-person business travel to a significant extent.

Respondents were clear: Virtual meetings have their place. But they can’t replace face-to-face meetings. Personal interaction, they felt, will always be more effective at establishing and maintaining relationships, fostering trust and driving company growth.

And they’re right. You can’t get to know a prospect, current client or business partner professionally and personally when you’re not in person. In a video chat, there is more opportunity for distraction and multitasking, the meetings themselves can feel rushed, and the technology can glitch. That’s not how you maintain a strong business relationship that lasts. In-person interaction is.

As business travel increases globally, so do the challenges facing employers who must balance employee safety in the face of threats of international violent conflicts, terrorism and civil unrest. The biggest management challenge in this evolving environment will be how duty of care plays a role in protecting a business traveler and a location-independent workforce. Business leaders have to ask themselves if a set of rules or policies designed to maintain the health, safety and well-being of their employees are in place.

Unfortunately, the overwhelming majority of business travelers surveyed (74%) say they do not have or do not know if they have a duty of care policy in place. The majority of the 26% of business travelers who say they have duty of care provisions in place reported the policy includes pre-trip planning, health alerts, on-trip event alerts, on-trip security or travel tracking.

Business leaders carry a duty of care responsibility to their employees, to take care of them and avoid exposing them to any unnecessary or undue risk. As global work-related travel continues to increase, the more duty of care policies must evolve.

Most business travelers lack immediate access to travel intelligence information or communication capabilities that may be lifesaving in the event of a medical or security emergency.

Eric Cioè-Peña, MD, MPH, FACEP, and vice president of the global health center for Northwell Health relies on real-time tracking and emergency alerts with a system called GRID 2.0 to keep his worldwide workforce safe. “I have the visibility and response capabilities to protect our travelers anytime, anywhere. This innovative platform is essential for globally minded organizations like ours,” he said.

Business leaders, security chiefs and human resource officials are always on the lookout for a system that distributes event notifications and alerts for civil unrest, disease-related developments, safety issues, transportation disruptions, communications blackouts and natural disasters including floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, and volcanic activity.

Sherri Hersh, senior manager, International Accreditation, ABET said the mobile app her company uses “places critical medical, security and other essential travel intelligence at the fingertips of my traveling workforce 24/7/365 so we can monitor and respond for the safety of our business travelers,” she said.

The survey showed that one thing remains constant: the irreplaceable value of face-to-face meetings. The return of those in-person meetings is something we should all embrace, not just as a tradition, but as a testament to the enduring importance of the genuine human connection that will shape the future of business.

*Global Rescue Winter Traveler Sentiment and Safety Survey

Copyright 2024 Pure Strategic Media Ltd. All rights reserved. From
By Paul Mullen, Vice President of Sales - Global Rescue.

To view all articles, check out the Internet Travel Monitor Archive

Play Video