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Return of business travel, but focus is essential

In-person meetings and corporate industry events are once again in demand, provided that commercial requirements are harmonised with social and environmental concerns. The policy is now Purposeful Travel, all delegates concur.

Business travel spending, according to Accor research, is only down 24% from 2019 and is predicted to reach pre-pandemic levels by 2024 (Deloitte). In line with this return to pre-pandemic spending, 57% of respondents in Accor’s most recent global business travel survey anticipate higher travel budgets in 2024 than they did in 2023. The same corporates rank “traveller experience” as the second-most important factor in 2024, trailing only cost savings in importance. And 46% of those polled said they were certain they would not restrict their business travel for the remainder of the year.

Master of Travel gives us an in-depth look at the status of corporate travel today, said Saskia Gentil, SVP Sales, Europe & North Africa at Accor. It’s a period of significant change and revaluation for the sector as companies struggle to reconcile production with purpose. It is evident that following a lull in activity, delegates are keen to resume travelling. Businesses may boost income and revive the art of face-to-face communication by being cognizant of value, sustainability, and finding a balance between work and leisure that supports the wellbeing of people.

Professionals estimate that in-person meetings generate 25% more income, demonstrating the irrefutable value of face-to-face interactions. When employees need engagement with coworkers and associates for their mental health and job satisfaction, the bottom line isn’t the sole factor in the equation. Every trip is thoroughly assessed in terms of ROI and ROE – return on investment and, increasingly, return on expectation – with the rule that if you don’t return, you don’t fly.

In ways that weren’t typical before Covid, virtual meetings are now a normal occurrence in the workplace. However, until technology catches up and holograms can smile with emotion, deals are still closed with a handshake.

Many people were particularly concerned about the environment. According to a poll conducted by Accor of corporate clients, “supplier sustainability performance for 2024 hotel sourcing and selection” was rated as being extremely essential in their booking decisions by 54% of respondents, who also placed carbon emissions as their top CSR priority. Both guests and travellers must cooperate in order to promote more environmentally friendly travel. Delegates were willing to pay more per night for better environmental credentials, and more than 70% of Accor hotels have carbon assessment instruments in place.

Meetings and deliberate downtime mean that tourists are staying longer, doing more, and slowing down to maximise their carbon footprint. Despite being in its infancy, delegates and their staff clearly value “bleisure.”

Blended ‘bleisure’ trips, which combine business and pleasure, are more common among younger employees, but the trend is becoming more widespread. 67% of clients surveyed in an Accor poll extended their business trips in 2022. Travel bookers urge caution from an insurance standpoint, as partners and families are often not covered and grey areas exist when it comes to splitting invoices, dividing loyalty points and benefits.

The wellbeing of business travellers should be of utmost importance. “Consumers today understand that they need to own their health and immunity in a different way,” said Emlyn Brown, global senior vice president of well-being at Accor. “Our ability to deliver an authentic, holistic, and highly considered wellness offering is vital.” He added: “Four out of five of our guests, irrespective of age, demographics, or country, are taking a daily step to improve their well-being — so we need to meet and exceed that demand in all our brands no matter which one travellers are staying in.”

Source- Travel daily

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