I have written many times about the travel and tourism revival post-COVD-19 and the importance of our population supporting our own travel and hospitality industries. I have been pleased to see that there has been a good uptake on this and I do believe that this Easter holiday season will see a good revival in local and international leisure travel, something for which we are all very grateful. It certainly has been a long hard road for the industry and a real fight-back for many hospitality venues, some of which, sadly, had to close their doors.
In this article, I want to talk about another area of travel which probably took an even greater beating, as it involves a lot of international travel, and that is corporate business travel. For many reasons, there has been hesitation on the part of big business to get fully back into the water as they certainly can’t be seen to be throwing their employees to the sharks! I do believe, however, that if you are afraid to dip your toe in the water you may never ride the crest of the wave – and a new wave of business travel is certainly now imminent. Let’s take a look at a few good reasons why business travel needs to get back on track ASAP…
Massive economic input
According to reported figures, travel and tourism in 2019, prior to COVID-19, generated a whopping 8.7% of South Africa’s GDP. This is a staggering amount for one industry and a huge percentage of that was attributed to business travel. We simply cannot afford for corporate business to drag its feet on returning to travel as this has in the past couple of years cost us dearly. I also don’t need to remind you, as I’ve had to say it many times over in the last couple of years, that the reduction of business travel due to the pandemic directly affected millions of jobs globally and redundancies were rampant. We need to get our people back to work ASAP!
Many business benefits
An excellent Skift report I read looks into the state of business travel in 2022 and some of the most significant reasons why many employees in big business in the USA are eager to get back to global communication on a face to face level. One of these is simply the fear of missing out or FOMO. As soon as the international community begin to travel again, business people understand the vital importance of getting to have that meeting ahead of your opposition – or at least having a chance to pitch. One simply can’t replace the intimacy and immediacy of an in-person meeting, studying each other’s body language and a warm handshake to seal the deal. I will speak about this in more detail in my next article, citing some personal examples, but for now let’s examine some other reasons that entrepreneurs, managers and employees on all levels are keen to (and need to) get back to business travel.
The Skift article includes a survey on this and the most important reasons that employees wanted to travel again 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 last but certainly not least, to gather a team together for face to face brain-storming or simply visit teams in other offices.
Human interaction can never be as successfully achieved virtually
I do firmly believe that all of these reasons to travel again for business liaisons are absolutely valid and vitally important for business development on a national or international level. The highly successful businessman Dan Gilbert, said: “There’s nothing better than people talking to each other, sharing best practices, and opening up communications.” A face on a screen just doesn’t achieve the same results and astute business people know this – so let us not hesitate to get corporate business travel back on track as soon as we possibly can. Be safe – and remember when you make the world your oyster – there are plenty of pearls to be found!LIDIA FOLLI
CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER