In the newly released Back to Blue Skies report, American Express and American Express Global Business Travel (GBT) found that business travel is an important driver in building in-person connections, a company’s culture, career development, and can lead to increased profit and revenue.
Corporate travellers and decision makers at U.S. businesses of all sizes and across a variety of industries participated in the survey, which highlights the sentiment around the benefits of business travel.
Gunther Bright, EVP, Global Commercial Services, American Express, said that: “Over the last year, we’ve heard from our clients, which range from small and mid-sized businesses to large and global corporations, that in-person connections cannot be replicated.”
And Bright said the newly released report “affirms this sentiment, suggesting that while some meetings are easily done virtually, others are much more valuable when they take place face-to-face. We expect many organizations will take a hybrid approach to doing business in the future, and we’ll continue to work to meet their needs as they return to business travel.”
David Reimer, EVP, Global Clients and General Manager, American Express Global Business Travel, pointed out that: “Decision makers are ready to get their employees back to blue skies safely and are optimistic that while business travel patterns might shift with a more dispersed workforce, volumes will return.”
Reimer continued: “As we’ve heard from clients and this survey confirmed, many corporate decision makers are looking for support on how they should evolve travel policies to drive employee confidence to get back to traveling for work.”
The new Back to Blue Skies report’s key insights include:
- Anticipated Return: 86% of business travellers surveyed said when it becomes safe, they are looking forward to getting back to business travel and 83% of decision makers are optimistic that business travel will return to previous levels over the next two years.
- Future Travel: 7 in 10 (69%) decision makers surveyed believe increased remote work will lead to more business travel in the future.
- Business Growth: More than four in five decision makers surveyed said that business travel leads to higher profit (85%) and revenue (85%).
- Professional Growth: 85% of business travellers say when they’re exploring new job opportunities, the ability to travel for work is important. They cite business travel playing a valuable role in their professional development, helping them perform better at their job (82%) and giving them more job fulfillment (83%). 90% of decision makers agree that business travel helps advance employees’ professional growth.
- Cultural Growth: Decision makers (88%) are as likely as business travellers (88%) to agree that business travel broadens cultural understanding.
- Employee Engagement: 87% of decision makers cite business travel as a way to reinvigorate employee engagement.
- Recruitment: Decision makers overwhelmingly agreed that business travel is important to attract (84%) and retain (83%) top talent.
As for what’s ahead, the Back to Blue Skies report makes it clear that the return of business travel is on the horizon, with many respondents saying it will likely look different when it returns.
There is a desire to restructure and rebuild policies around what business travel will look like.
Many decision makers (73%) are seeking guidance in revising their organization’s existing business travel policies to ensure employee safety, and 78% say their organization’s business travel policies will be different than they were pre-pandemic.
As business travel returns, it’s encouraging to see that more than half of decision markers (56%) and half of business travellers (53%) believe it is important for their organization to prioritize travel companies that invest in sustainability.