As a travel management company, our business has of course been greatly impacted by the COVID19 restrictions. With disrupted supply chains across all industries, not just travel, we know that many of our eSME customers are also feeling the pinch just as sharply.
But what about the individuals at those companies, the tireless travellers who spend a big portion of their working life living out of a suitcase? It has been estimated in the past that 28% of business can be lost to competitors without face-to-face meetings (source: Oxford Economics), but it's not necessarily all bad news.
With our customers no longer able to travel to conduct their business, we got curious about what life is like for the Road Warriors out there. Have they got "itchy feet" or are they simply enjoying the chance to spend more time at home with their loved ones?
See what some of our most frequent flyers had to say about the ups and downs of being unexpectedly grounded.
- Increased work/life balance. Being home with no commute to the office let alone interstate means hours more in every day for personal time.
- More sleep. No 3am wake-up alarms for your 5am flights to make 9am meetings in another city.
- No airport queues (or plane food)!
- More family time. Still being at home when the kids wake up, having story time and able to put them to bed in the evening.
Paul Brennan, MD of biotech firm PolyNovo, shares that he is loving being at home, comfortable and “not exhausted by time zone changes every 6 weeks”. Though Paul admits customer interaction is not as dynamic as in-person meetings, he is not missing planes or hotels, and his company has really embraced video-conferencing.
- No jet lag. Especially for those travelling to Europe or the US, but even the East-West coast Australia time zone difference of 3 hours can cause havoc with your bodyclock.
- Access to your full wardrobe. Not living out of a suitcase and having instant access to all your belongings when you need them.
- Health benefits. Having home cooked meals instead of takeaway or eating on the run. More time to exercise and all that extra sleep!
Shawn Ford, Indigenous Programs Manager from SANFL, reveals that "as glamorous as it may sound to those who have never been required to fly for work every week, stay in different beds 4/7 nights and try to maintain a healthy lifestyle at the same time, there really is nothing like home."
- Missing the human interaction. Especially with customers and colleagues, but also opportunities to meet new people and catch up with distant friends.
- No “Bleisure” travel - a trend which has been growing in recent years, with employers encouraging their road warriors to extend with some personal time when away from work.
Christelle Damiens, CEO of export consultancy firm Exportia, is used to travelling to Europe on a monthly basis and is missing the unique learning opportunities she gets from interacting with her customers from different cultures. She has been able to adapt her business well to the change well, but she also has some concern for the mental health of her team. “They are like lions in a cage! They are not used to staying at home, I need to make sure they are ok in this strange time”.
- Less adventure, fewer opportunities to explore new cities, restaurants and cultures.
- Not accruing as many frequent flyer miles. Many of our Road Warriors rack up huge numbers of points on the back of their work travel. If you’d been banking on those miles to pay for your next holiday, it might take a little longer to get there!
According to a report by Oxford Economics, US companies generated $9.50 in revenue for every $1 spent on travel.
- Impact to business growth. While video conferencing offers a cost-effective solution to remote working, face-to-face meetings provide greater opportunity to build rapport and trust, especially with a new contact. Meeting in person can be the difference to closing a deal or choosing the right supplier to work with.
At some point we know businesses will start venturing back out into the world, but for now we will embrace the upsides to life in lock down.
Tell us what you you miss about business travel and tag Flight Centre Business Travel Australia on LinkedIn - we'd love to hear your opinion!
* Source: Oxford Economics The Return on Investment on US Business Travel