A new survey of 1,003 U.S. employees who travel or have traveled for business prior to COVID-19 conducted by Censuswide in partnership with PromoLeaf reveals information about the true impact of business travel on companies and those employees who do the traveling, and provides insights on what the future of business travel might look like.
When asked, “Has your business been positively or negatively affected by not being able to travel for business?” 32% of respondents said lack of business travel had a negative effect. However, 37% said the impact had been positive and 25% said it had neither a positive or negative effect.
Additionally, of those respondents who travel most frequently (more than once a week), 60% said the effect had been positive vs. 21% said it had been negative. And of those 55 and older, 47% said the impact was negative vs. 8% who thought it was positive.
The nature of this question asked about the more general impact of the lack of business travel on business. But when asked how much revenue, if any, their business lost as a result of business travel restrictions, the answers reveal a different story.
Just over 16% of respondents stated their business did not lose any revenue due to the lack of business travel and another 18% lost less than 10% of revenues.
In contrast, 45% of respondents estimated their company has lost more than 20% of revenue. Nearly 14% lost 40% or more. This loss of revenue can impact a company’s ability to stay afloat, let alone grow.
The joys of business travel
Respondents were asked whether they would agree or disagree with the following statement: “My job doesn’t give me as much enjoyment now that I can’t travel for business or business travel is limited.”
A majority (64%) somewhat or strongly agree with the above statement. Just over 20% disagree, and the remainder of the respondents neither agree nor disagree.
Just how much does this lack of enjoyment affect these travelers? So much so that 48% are considering a change in profession. Of those who travel every day, 79% are considering a change in profession. The less frequent travelers are less likely to change careers, with the only majority in those who travel once every two months or less.
What travelers miss about business travel
A solid 98% of those in our survey miss something about business travel. When asked to pick what, if anything, they missed and allowed to choose multiple answers, the top pick was exploring new places (51%).
A close and related second most popular answer was “bleisure,” the combination of business and pleasure trips often done by tacking a few extra days on to a business trip to explore the area traveled to.
The majority of those over the age of 55 said they miss face-to-face interactions the most, which was third on the overall list of things respondents missed.
The escape often found in travel also ranked high on the list, with 42% happy to get away from their desks and nearly 40% grateful for the time away from home.
The downside of not traveling for business
When asked directly about the downsides of not traveling for business and allowed to make more than one choice, the answers directly aligned with what frequent travelers had said.
The top items negatively impacted from the lack of business travel were motivation at work (40% of respondents), productivity at work (36%) and mental health (35%).
One of the more surprising answers was relationships: 24% felt their relationship with their partner had been negatively impacted.
These new close quarters and remote working environments may very well be why nearly 19% say their relationship with their children has also been negatively impacted. The reality is people are missing external social connections from travel, working in the office and even connections with friends.
Video conferencing’s impact
When asked how ineffective or effective they thought video calls were at replacing face-to-face meetings, the answers were split pretty evenly for and against. Only a little over 13% were indifferent.
Just over 42% thought video was somewhat or very ineffective at replacing face-to-face meetings. Just over 44% felt they were somewhat or very effective. Those who traveled at least once every two to three weeks leaned toward feeling they were ineffective.
When asked how many business connections they made per trip (pre-COVID), respondents answered with a mean of seven. Under 3% said they made no connections at all. When asked a follow-up question regarding how many trips they’d missed, nearly 45% said they’d missed more than 10 trips.