Everybody’s talking about the “new normal,” and while nobody really knows what that’s going to look like, we’re guessing it isn’t going to feel all that normal. Especially when it concerns going into the office, booking a trip, getting on a plane, and flying around the world.
Yeah, that level of normalcy is out the window.
But we can get a glimpse into what lies ahead, at least in the world of business travel. Wakefield Research recently asked 4,850 business travelers in 23 markets how they see things changing, what their expectations are, and how they feel about it, among other “what’s life going to be like” questions.
Their answers are outlined in this report, and while many of travelers say they’re excited to get back on the road, they expect things to be quite different.
No matter how well the meeting goes, we’re likely not going to in congratulatory contact. No handshakes, no hugs, no high-fives (not that we would’ve done that anyhow). But we are likely going to wear masks, use hand sanitizer, and practice social distancing. 41% of travelers also expect that temperature screenings will be a routine part of their trips.
Travelers are going to be looking for direct flights and fewer layovers in large airports. 29% prioritize taking the shortest route between locations, and 21% hope to skip stops at major hubs. These direct flights are going to have a direct impact on the budget, and it isn’t going to be cheaper. But to get them out there again, they’re going to want assurances that they can avoid the crowds.
In the new normal, business travelers are going to steer clear of public transportation (37% will be limiting ridership), and 29% predict that they’ll be using their personal vehicle for traveling. That’s going to impact companies all over the map – from parking to mileage – as well as increase time spent driving, while decreasing time spent working.
Contrary to what we’ve been seeing the past few months, travel really does need to happen. But to get people to feel confident in grabbing their carry-on again, businesses are going to have to adjust.
Flexibility will be key as you move forward. Travel programs will have to adapt when the rules and expectations change, then adapt again when they change again. And staying nimble will be easier if you have the apps and other tools travelers are planning on – everything from those safety information mentioned above, to pre-trip approval processes, to the ability to track and offset carbon footprint. (Yes, this shows up in the Wakefield whitepaper, too, as an on-demand function travelers expect to see soon.)
This is a considerable change at a time when we’re all already dealing with considerable change. But you don’t have to let it worry you. This report shows you what you need to know, where we all need to go, and how we can get there.