In my last article, I spoke about the many reasons that businesses need to start travelling again as soon as possible. This may sound like an obvious statement coming from someone as invested in the travel industry as I, but a very good Skift article I had read had stated this to be true, and just some of the reasons were ‘’to seal the deal; establish new business relationships; visit existing clients to enhance relationships and up-sell their services; attend conferences and events (a rapidly growing sentiment) and to gather teams together for face-to-face brainstorming, or simply visit teams in other offices.’’
It is this last point that I promised to elaborate on and would like to emphasise in this article, as I do believe that not only can we not replace the intimacy and immediacy of an in-person meeting via a virtual equivalent, but a recent personal experience proved to me that there is more to in-person business meetings than just studying each other’s body language and warm handshakes.
Astounding results achieved in minimal time
One of the things that many business owners may not have realised is that in-person meetings can actually achieve far greater results than virtual interactions and I can personally vouch for this through a series of face-to-face meetings I recently experienced. We recently hosted one of our global partners for an African partner summit in JHB, where we had colleagues out from the UK and some of our colleagues from the continent. This was the first gathering of this nature to be held in person since 2019, and the results of these personal interactions were quite astounding. We managed to get far more done, and find solutions to resolve more outstanding matters, in three days of face-to-face interactions than what had taken us something like six months to achieve via virtual teams meetings!
This is just one example that makes me supremely confident that business travel will come back sooner than later. People need to make human contact and results are achieved in far better turn-around times. I believe this is one of the reasons a lot of our clients are now wanting to travel – to touch bases with their company and get to know their people again. Exco Teams want to do a full trip to see all branches – renew old acquaintances and get many projects back on track that required human interaction to make them work! Certainly, there is a place for virtual interactions too, like online training and quick, time-saving one-on-ones, but when it comes to a company working effectively together in unison, they will sooner, rather than later, want to travel again.
The pace will quicken rapidly now
This has already been illustrated by our client base as we are seeing an increase in travel requests and our travellers are doing multi-national trips, both on the continent and abroad, to either see their operations outside our borders or meet with key suppliers and clients. Just remember though that we were a severely impacted industry due to the pandemic so we are now facing some very short lead and quick turnaround times with a depleted workforce. Do try to start scheduling future business travel with your TMCs as soon as possible and start looking to making long term travel plans again.
The renowned internet Entrepreneur Joe Gebbia said “Digital communication is completely different from in-person, face-to-face conversations. One will give you surface insights, and the other really gives you depth.” Astute business owners, executives and managers know, as I do, that business simply works better when conducted on a personal level!LIDIA FOLLI
CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER