Winning new business and managing existing client relationships are the two dominant business activities motivating organisations to a return to business travel, according to the first phase of a combined multinational State of the Market survey by global TMC, Corporate Traveller, and sister brand FCM Travel Solutions.

A total of 1 600 business travel managers, bookers and travellers at FCM and Corporate Traveller clients in EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa), Asia, the Americas, India, Australia and New Zealand took part in the survey last month.

The study revealed that the main reasons why organisations consider resuming business travel were:

  1. To win new business (43%)
  2. To manage existing customer relationships (39%)
  3. To facilitate conferences/events (23%)
  4. To move the workforce around different work locations (20%)
  5. To facilitate internal meetings amongst the company’s people (15%)
  6. To better manage supply chain (14%)
  7. To engage in research and/or product development (14%)

“Human connections are an integral part of doing business,” commented Oz Desai, General Manager: Corporate Traveller. “Although building relationships online is possible, anyone who has tried to organise a virtual meeting for more than ten people will know that it is simply not conducive to interaction. Presenting a business pitch virtually as opposed in person is fundamentally different, as important elements such as body language and natural interaction are missing. There is nothing worse than being in the midst of a middle of a million-rand pitch and freezing on the screen because of a bad connection. Some interactions just need to be done in person.”

The survey further revealed that while a large portion of respondents indicated a need to revamp travel policy post Covid-19, 28% of respondents were unsure what needed to change. Of those that did indicate areas for travel policy change, “health and hygiene” and “duty of care” considerations were the two dominant categories. Asked whether changes implemented during Covid-19 will reduce their need for business travel, there was a 50/50 split between participants agreeing or disagreeing.

“The study was conducted by FCM’s consulting arm 4th Dimension (4D) in order to give both FCM Travel Solutions and Corporate Traveller greater insight into their clients’ prevailing sentiments on business travel conditions as countries emerge from the Covid-19 crisis,” said Desai. “It’s vital for us to understand if and how our clients will start to travel again, and their primary concerns and objectives when they do so.”