Business travel is different, not dead

Business travel is different, not dead

As business travel bounces back, IWG has partnered with Plaza Premium Lounge to help hybrid workers and digital nomads travel in style. Here, we take a look at the trends emerging around the future of business trips.

Business travel equals big business. According to the Global Business Travel Association, it equated to annual revenues of $1.4trn in 2019.

Then Covid happened. Passenger numbers plummeted, revenues dropped by $710bn and Bill Gates predicted that post-pandemic business travel would be halved.

But even if working remotely taught us that not everybody needs to be in the office five days a week, we still need human connections. And while the pandemic proved that business can be conducted effectively through Zoom or Teams or whatever video conferencing tool you use, in-person touchpoints – whether it’s signing a deal, pitching for a client or networking at a conference – will still be a vital aspect of working life.

Hybrid working has emerged as the dominant trend across the globe, allowing people to split their time between an office HQ, working from home or at a coworking space.

Plus, hybrid is also helping to shape the future of business travel.

Business travel bounces back

According to forecasts from the World Travel & Tourism Council, business travel spending will reach two-thirds of pre-pandemic levels in 2022.

There were positive signs for the industry dating back to the end of 2020 when Globetrender published a report titled The Future of Business Travel.

The results revealed that 76% of respondents agreed that being face-to-face with clients is preferable to remote working for sales meetings and pitches. However, 67% said that remote working is a way to reduce carbon footprint.

So, there is clearly a desire for people to travel when those meetings are considered essential, leading to renewed business travel.

The rise of ‘bleisure’

‘Bleisure’, as the name suggests, is the combination of business and leisure. Already a trend pre-Covid-19, it is set to accelerate as the skies open up again.

The fastest-growing area of bleisure is among digital nomads, who enjoy a location-fluid, technology-enabled lifestyle, which means they can travel and work remotely anywhere in the world that has an internet connection. And their numbers are growing exponentially (35 million worldwide at the last count).

More countries are introducing digital nomad visas, which allow somebody to travel, live and work in the destination of their choice, be it the Cayman Islands or Croatia.

Covid-19 prompted millions of employees around the world to reassess their jobs and find roles that could provide the option of flexible, hybrid working, allowing them to strike a better work-life balance.

For employers, offering flexibility has become a key incentive in both trying to retain and attract talent as well as providing the right environment to work in a variety of locations.

Having an IWG membership means that you - or your employees - can drop into any one of IWG’s 3,500 locations across the world.

The future of events is hybrid

Business travel both domestically and internationally often involves attending conferences. Events companies have embraced their own versions of hybrid.

“The real growth area is hybrid events,” says Simone Broadhurst, Managing Director of Incisive Media. “Most sponsors have been very supportive and enjoyed learning along the way.”

Mike Hay, President of Ringier Trade Media in Hong Kong, has been impressed with the results of hybrid events, where you have both delegates in-person and a virtual audience online. “We’re getting more virtual delegates attending than those on site,” he says.

“When we hold virtual events in China we have a WeChat channel that runs in parallel and attendees can communicate in public or create private chat rooms, which has worked well. The problem is getting the sponsors and delegates to interact.”

It follows that the interactions and networking that happen after the speeches and presentations are finished will always provide a compelling case for companies to send delegates to events and are important for organisers to attract sponsors.

Strategic partnerships between work and travel

With business travel bouncing back, IWG has recently partnered with the world leader in airport hospitality, Plaza Premium Lounge (PPL), to offer all IWG customers a discounted rate on airport lounge access across the Plaza Premium Lounge network.

Located in 70 international airports across 30 countries and regions, the lounges offer a comfortable and convenient base for business travellers and digital nomads on the move. With its strong presence in Asia and Europe, and continuous growth in the Americas – from their award-winning London Heathrow T2 departure lounge to its recent debut at Budapest Airport, and the recently introduced São Paulo/Guarulhos International Airport T2 departure, an architectural masterpiece of modern design and sustainability – the partnership allows immediate accessibility to IWG members, enabling them to operate on a safe and secure network, ensuring peace of mind through a comfortable and relaxing airport experience.

All that IWG members need to do is show their membership card on their Regus or Spaces app to get the discount and to access any of PPL's walk-in lounges.

Discover how IWG membership can help you or your team embrace business travel, with access to 3,500 flexible workspaces worldwide.