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Face-to-face Meetings Still Needed, Despite Pandemic Concerns

Global survey finds most business travelers still rely on in-person get-togethers to make deals and decisions happen

The COVID-19 pandemic may have severely restricted global travel over the last six months, but business travelers remain convinced of the need for face-to-face meetings, according to our new survey.

Conducted as part of a wider Future of Business Travel report produced in partnership with travel trend forecasting agency Globetrender and American Express Global Business Travel,  the survey polled 2,020 Business Traveler readers worldwide on their sentiments in relation to the pandemic.

More than three quarters of respondents said that they believe face-to-face meetings for sales and pitching are preferable to remote working, while six out of ten business travelers said that the majority of deals and decisions cannot be made virtually. However the majority of readers (78 percent) said they would not shake hands in a meeting.

Nearly 40 percent of respondents expect to start traveling again before the end of 2020, but quarantine remains a concern, with 91 percent stating that they would be less likely to travel if they were required to quarantine in their destination.

Unsurprisingly, a vaccine would make most of our readers (80 percent) more likely to travel, although nearly as many (75 percent) said that traveling in business or first class would also increase the chances of them choosing to get back on the road.

Familiar brands are also set to play a part in easing travelers back into travel, with 87 percent stating they are likely to stick with airlines they know when they start to travel again, and 80 percent likely to stay at familiar hotels.

The full results of the survey are detailed in The Future of Business Travel Report.(Download for free.)

The report highlights nine emerging trends that will shape the future of business travel, including Employee Empowerment, Smartphone Centricity and Optimized Facetime.

It also features case studies with companies including Virgin Atlantic, as well as interviews with leading industry executives such as Andrew Crawley, chief commercial officer for American Express Global Business Travel.

“This research clearly shows that business travelers are more than ready to get back to travel,” said Dan Booth, editorial director of Business Traveler USA. “However the inconsistent measures – and mixed messages – around quarantines, travel restrictions and testing are creating uncertainty which is crippling a return of business travel so vital to global economic growth. There is cause for optimism, but it will take concerted action by authorities around the world for this to translate into more people traveling for business.”,

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