Survey: Face to Face Still King, Post-COVID

If you’re like many meeting professionals, you can’t wait for face-to-face meetings to become the norm again. Well, you’re not alone. A recent survey, titled “The Future of Business Travel,” determined that most of us can’t wait to see human faces in the flesh, shake hands and hug. The survey was conducted by Globetrender and Business Traveller, in association with American Express Global Business Travel.

In this study of more than 2,000 Business Traveller readers, two-thirds were either owners or partners in their businesses or at the senior management level. Most respondents came from the United Kingdom, Asia, North America, Western Europe and Australasia.

Travel and Travel Plans

While business travel isn’t nearly at the level that it was before the pandemic, the overall outlook looks more hopeful, according to the study. It found business travel has increased by 55 percent since restrictions eased. More than a third (37 percent) of respondents expect to resume travel in 2021.

A whopping 91 percent of those surveyed stated they would be less likely to travel if required to quarantine at their destination. This could be contributing to sluggishness in the resumption of business travel, as 14-day quarantines remains in force in many destinations.

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A COVID-19 vaccine was ranked highest in importance to jump start business travel in the coming year. Next were the “ability to travel in business or first class” and “high standards of hygiene on transport.”

Safety is Number One

Not surprisingly, health and safety concerns remain paramount among businesses and businesspeople alike. When booking a business trip, pre-pandemic, only 18 percent of respondents were concerned with health and safety—much less of a concern than price (77 percent), schedule (75) and loyalty scheme; now, that number has increased to 64 percent, or roughly equal with price (64) and schedule (61) and higher than loyalty scheme (48).

Remote Work Isn’t Preferred

With all the convenience and ease that remote work offers, the majority still prefers the traditional route: meeting in person. Seventy-six percent of those surveyed agree that face-to-face interactions are preferable to remote work for meetings. Several reasons were cited: Seven out of ten say most meetings cannot happen more efficiently and concisely if done remotely; almost as many (60 percent) agree that most deals and decisions cannot be properly made virtually.

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If you thought there’d be a virtual takeover post-COVID, the world may not be there quite yet.