New research from Showpad has shown the true toll of the pandemic on business travel. More than half of business travellers (58%) indicate travelling for work will still be as limited as possible in 2021 and only 4% of business travellers believe they will resume work trips in 2021 as they did before the pandemic.
The number of business trips taken in the UK fell sharply during the pandemic, with no indication that they will return to past levels. Monthly outbound business trips from the UK decreased to 243,000 in March 2020, compared to nearly 750,000 in March of the previous year.
Still, some workers remain optimistic. 38% of business travellers believe some form of business travel will resume in 2021, despite restrictions remaining in place.
‘’Now that the UK and much of the world is opening up, many have begun to feel comfortable resuming some of their pre-pandemic activities. Even so, uncertainty surrounding business travel remains. Our survey revealed a reluctance among business travellers to resume their travels – indicating that we can expect the future of working and selling to be forever changed as we know it; presenting both challenges and opportunities for businesses,” said Iain Masson, RVP UK & Nordics at Showpad.
Remote selling has brought many advantages with it, most notably the significant costs saved on travel – with some companies reporting billions in cost cuts. 48% of UK workers also cite environmental concerns as a reason to take fewer business trips, as working from home more frequently could result in a significant reduction in their carbon footprint and assist organisations in reaching their climate goals.
However, Showpad research also shows the pandemic has made it more difficult to close deals with potential customers because of buying decisions being placed on hold (47%) or changing decision criteria (36%). Organisations still need to be focusing on customer needs and using the tools and training available to create a great customer experience remotely.
”We’re never going back to where we were, and we now need to look beyond the ‘new normal’. If we have learned anything from the pandemic, it’s that virtual collaboration can be incredibly effective, as well as save on costs and time – this era of modern selling is here to stay. But with this continued reduction of face-to-face interaction, finding effective ways to communicate with clients and colleagues in a virtual setting, engaging customers and prospects, as well as providing continuous training, will remain paramount,” concluded Masson.