Over the past few months, we’ve seen a complete upheaval in the way we do business. As millions and millions of people were forced to work from home, businesses had to transition into an all virtual situation.
Perhaps no industry was hit harder during this time than the travel industry. Flights became unsafe and all sorts of business travel plans were canceled. As things slowly start to return to normal across the world, the question then becomes, what does the future look like for business travel? Here are a few likely consequences.
More Health Precautions
The first, and the most obvious, answer is that there will be more health precautions taken while traveling. People who are getting on flights will likely be required to wear a mask. In addition, they may also have to pass a temperature check and even be given a COVID test at some point. You’ll also likely see much of the airline staff taking more safety precautions, such as wearing masks of their own and wearing gloves. And while these health precautions may not protect travelers 100 percent against getting sick, they are a good start.
Another change you may see is more training coming from major corporations that rely on a lot of travel. They will likely have to train their employees on how to safely travel during this time, along with how to conduct more of their business virtually when travel isn’t possible. Companies will have to spend time and resources developing these training programs, even if they are only used for a few months.
If your company uses a corporate travel service, they may have some training of their own to provide you. The goal of this training will be to ensure that all travelers remain as safe as possible and that companies are not putting their employees in harm’s way.
Only Necessary Flights
For the time being at least, you’ll likely see that people are traveling for business only when necessary. Before this health crisis, people would conduct business travel whenever it was convenient for them. This could mean a quick flight just to have a meeting, then returning that same day. Now, because of the risks, traveling will likely only happen when it is necessary. Businesses will become more intentional about where and when to travel someplace, keeping the traveling to a minimum.
Increase in Domestic Travel
Another change you may see is an increase in domestic travel compared to foreign. There are two major reasons for this. The first is that despite other countries handling the virus relatively well, many people will feel unsafe traveling to another country. This could stem from longer travel times and the perception that other countries did not handle things well.
The other reason is that people are starting to feel safe traveling within the United States. Some areas have flattened their curves to the extent that they are now beginning to open back up again. So while people may not feel comfortable taking a flight to another country, this same apprehension may not apply to domestic travel. In addition, if someone were to get sick, they would probably prefer to be in their own home country, closer to family and with their health insurance.
Eventual Easing of Restrictions
Finally, as time goes on, eventually these restrictions and precautions will begin to ease down. This will likely happen either because people grow tired of following them or a vaccine becomes widely available. However, you shouldn’t expect things to change too much, especially not right away. Many businesses are now discovering how much cheaper it is to work from home and may continue on with those policies for the long-term. It may be a while before business travel, or any kind of travel for that matter, returns to its previous levels.
The Future of Business Travel
For the time being, business travel will likely continue on at its low levels. For those people who are traveling for business, they will have to deal with some additional training and health procedures to help ensure that they remain safe. This will make what was already a long process a little more uncomfortable, but the safety of you and everyone else traveling is worth the extra precaution. And, if we can keep up our good travel habits, it won’t be long before we can start to remove these restrictions and travel like we once did, whether it’s for business or pleasure.
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