LONDON - Only 24 months ago, business travel was synonymous with global corporations and senior executives’ roles. During the global lockdowns, companies have experienced the direct impact of no travel or in-person meetings on their business functions and operations. In new research from VistaJet, the first and only global business aviation company, in association with WSJ Intelligence, that impact is quantified for the first time.
For The Future of Business Travel report over 200 high-level company executives in the U.S., EMEA and APAC were surveyed about the essential role and value of travel in their professional lives.
During the pandemic, travel has been limited for 90% of companies surveyed, and almost all (97%) said their businesses experienced negative impact directly related to those restrictions. Nearly one-quarter (24%) indicated massive or substantial disruptions across all eight areas measured, and 87% cited massive or substantial disruption in at least one area. More than a third (37%) said international business development and product launches took a hit due to a lack of in-person presence.
As restrictions ease, built-up anticipation for business travel is clear, with 81% saying business travel will be more important than ever to driving success. Among respondents who take eight or more private flights a year, 60% plan to significantly increase in-person meetings.
VistaJet has seen a surge of 49% in corporate interest around the world since the start of the pandemic, confirming that flying private continues to be a key support for business travel. The main benefits of taking private flights for business travel are reported by those surveyed, in order, as flexibility, efficiency, safety and privacy. The two top priorities for trips are visiting partners and vendors and going to industry events, each at 34%. Managing current relationships and building new ones are also key drivers.
The return to business travel largely hangs on regulations - 46% of respondents are waiting for destinations to reopen; 42% want updated COVID-19 data and rules for destinations; 36% seek support in case COVID-19 regulations change during a trip; and the same number await relaxation of their own company’s travel policies.
Ian Moore, Chief Commercial Officer, VistaJet said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has upended the world, including travel. It also showed that some business travel is truly essential and having to forgo in-person trips came at a real cost to companies. Additionally, it is hard to read a room when everyone is in individual windows on screen - misunderstandings can occur, especially across cultures, and these in turn can become costly mistakes.”
To further support businesses around the world connect and restart the economy in the midst of heightened market insecurity, VistaJet recently launched a new Corporate Membership, offering speed and maximum flexibility with payment in arrears, unlimited flying hours, guaranteed availability of additional aircraft, and streamlined travel logistics.