An analysis by Travelperk, a booking and administration platform for business trips, has shown that Germany is currently the leader in terms of the frequency of business trips.
Experts and companies agree: business trips will probably be less common. And a lot of them will change – either for a limited time or forever.
If you believe Eugen Triebelhorn, there are two scenarios for the future of business travel. First: “Sometime Day X will come when everything will be as it was before.” Second: “It will never be the same again; Strict rules will be introduced for business trips, which will apply for a very long time or forever. ”
Triebelhorn is head of Travelperk Germany, an online platform for booking, planning and managing business trips. No matter which scenario he outlines, Triebelhorn is certain that the frequency and sequence of business trips will change radically in one way or another. Either only for a limited time until the “Day X” turning point occurs – or permanently. Extinction, the Travelperk Germany boss is certain, but will not be business trips.
Digital communication can replace many things – but not everything
“There are jobs where you have to travel,” he says. Examples include many skilled trades or the purchasing departments of fashion companies, where employees have to touch fabrics to assess their quality. “It just doesn’t work with zoom.”
Analogue contact with business partners is still important in digitally shaped 2020. “Let’s take business people who should decide whether their company should do business or not: there is simply a limit to a call,” says Eugen Triebelhorn. “At the end of the day, it makes an incredible difference whether you have someone on the phone or in the zoom call, or whether you can look the person in the eye and interpret their posture and facial expressions.”
In fact, companies in Germany are slowly coming back to business trips after hardly a business traveler has been on a plane, train or car from mid-March to now, mid-May. In a survey by the German Travel Management Association (VDR), 75.7 percent of companies stated that business trips were currently permitted – in so-called justified exceptional cases. The VDR lists examples of such exceptions on its homepage: construction site monitoring is one of them, as are business-critical appointments or emergency customer contact by field service technicians.
Germany is currently the leader in business travel
Since March 25, the VDR has been polling its member companies and organizations every two weeks. The past responses from the companies clearly show how attitudes have changed in the companies: In the very first survey of March 25, 42 percent of the companies surveyed said that they had banned business travel without exception. This number dropped steadily in the following weeks – as of mid-May, only 12.1 percent consistently forbid all business trips. And: 86 percent of companies believe it is likely that the number of business trips will increase again in the medium term.
So it starts again with the business trips – and nowhere else as quickly as in Germany, according to those responsible for the travel platform Travelperk. The bookings received were analyzed on the international platform with locations in London, Barcelona and Chicago, among others. Result: The travel volume in Germany is three times as high as the global average. But be careful: This does not mean that only German business travelers were counted; Business travelers from other countries who came to Germany were also included in the analysis. Counting took place from the beginning of April to May 11th.
“Carefully consider whether a trip is essential”
But what does that actually mean when business trips – at least for now – are no longer the same as they used to be? First of all, here: “Business travelers will have to plan more waiting times.” Even if everyone in a queue in front of the passport control would keep the distance of at least 1.5 meters, this would delay the processes there. According to Triebelhorn, there could be a second time waster: he believes it is likely that passengers will have to provide proof of health on international trips – for example in the form of an antibody test.
Employers will no longer send their employees on business trips lightly. “At the moment, companies should carefully consider whether a trip is essential,” says Triebelhorn. One question that should be asked beforehand, for example, would be: “Without the deal that has to be concluded on the business trip, will there be a competitive disadvantage?”
Business trips are also likely to become more expensive
Companies will soon check more critically whether a business trip really has to take place. The results of the VDR survey also suggest this. Almost 90 percent of the companies surveyed said it was “likely” that they would soon check more closely than before whether a business trip was actually necessary. One reason for this critical consideration could also be the costs: 86 percent of all companies expect business trips to become more expensive in the future – also because the corona crisis is driving or has already driven many travel providers and service providers into bankruptcy. This means less competition – and thus probably higher costs.
Travelperk is currently working on a kind of checklist for customers and travel service providers. It contains criteria for a safe business trip. A few examples of such criteria: The booked hotel provides masks for guests; In the booked plane or train there is either a glass wall between the seats or one seat remains empty. The most important criterion, says Eugen Triebelhorn, should always be this: that companies and travelers feel safe.