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Business travel will never come back: Quartz

tourism industry big bounces this summer as people tired of staying close to home during the pandemic I take this opportunity to travel.

But business trips have yet to return to pre-pandemic levels. A recent report from the Global Business Travel Association notes that while spending on business travel increased by 5.5% year over year to $697 billion in 2021, that number still pales in comparison to the $1.4 trillion spent on business travel in 2019.

A new report suggests the drop in briefcase passengers may well be permanent. Among people who traveled for work at least three times a year before the pandemic, two in five Americans say they never expect to travel for business again, according to a new report by the decision intelligence company Morning Consult. The report surveyed more than 16,000 people in the Americas, Europe, and the Asia-Pacific region between October 2021 and summer 2022.

The decline in business travel appears even more pronounced in Europe, with 55% of respondents in the UK and 59% in France saying they will never travel for work again.

By contrast, people in India, China and Brazil are more likely to see business travel in their future. But overall, according to the report, “it is now undeniable that business travel will never return to pre-pandemic normality.”

How the pandemic changed business travel

The Morning Consult report doesn’t delve into the reasons for the decline in business travel. But there are a number of good theories about why people are taking less business travel, and some important caveats.

One of the main reasons business travel has lagged behind leisure travel in the wake of the pandemic is that people have adapted to video conferencing and hybrid working. Now that we know how much work can be done with Zoom, the benefits of in-person interaction may not always justify the trade-offs of flying in to see clients and co-workers. “I think about my lost productivity and personal time, my boss’s money, and the pollution my plane throws up,” Farhad Manjoo in the New York Times last year, reflecting on how many of his pre-pandemic business trips now it appears.

business belt tightening it’s also making business travel less frequent, particularly in the face of high inflation and (possibly exaggerated) concerns about a recession. In addition, environmental concerns are making companies less arrogant about carbon footprint of business travel, according to a recent report from the Global Business Travel Association. And international business travel has been complicated by covid-19 lockdowns other quarantine policies that vary by country.

But companies aren’t avoiding business travel altogether. They are simply being more selective about when and why they send workers into the field.

A recent New York Times report found that while individual business travel has taken a hit in the wake of the pandemic, companies are still happy to spend on travel to conferences and conventions. Meanwhile, consultancy AlixPartners says companies are cutting back on transporting workers to internal meetings and prioritize face-to-face time with clients instead. Still, AlixPartners predicts that business travel will remain 15-25% below pre-pandemic levels until at least 2025.

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