Motus, the definitive leader in solutions for businesses with anywhere workforces, today released its 2021 Business Travel Trends Report. The report aims to help business leaders planning their corporate travel approach and travel budget allocations by providing the latest trends and holistic landscape surrounding business travel.
“Adoption of the virtual business landscape became a necessity to keep employees safe over the course of 2020 and early 2021, and the way we do business has changed,” said Ken Robinson, market research manager at Motus. “The widespread use of videoconferencing drove a significant decline in travel spending – fewer than 1 in 5 companies reached even 25% of their 2019 quarterly spend as of Q2 2021. Overall, U.S. business travel spend is estimated to be down $192 billion so far this year.”
The report found that while most employees are now willing to travel for work, business travel spend in August was still 11% below 2019 levels. One reason for this is travel managers reevaluating policies. One in five companies have corporate vaccine policies in place for domestic business travel. Travel managers must weigh the return on investment and bottom-line impact of travel budgets.
Given flight and budget restrictions, and the desires of 25% of individuals who prefer to use personal vehicles instead of public transportation, it’s no surprise that only 2% of business travelers have booked their next flight. As a result, U.S. driving activity surpassed pre-pandemic levels as of March 2021. Motus found that driving activity in the business sector has not only recovered, but activity in 2021 has exceeded the pre-pandemic average by about 30%.
The rise in driving and restrictions for both domestic and international flights raise the question: when does it makes sense for team members to drive or fly? Factoring in various costs, Motus found that in order to make a business trip practical, maximum drive time should be capped at about 10 hours or around 600 miles. After this point, added expenses such as increased travel time, accommodations and meals for extended travel start to exceed the cost of flights. However, this must now be weighed alongside vaccine requirements and other air travel uncertainties when determining what’s best for businesses and their teams.
“Seventy-two percent of employees rank flexibility as a key element of business travel,” said Robinson. “So, in the post-pandemic world, business leaders and travel managers must be increasingly flexible while taking a more stringent approach to budget and health concerns. Now more than ever, pre-trip approval tools can help employers efficiently control costs while navigating travel policies, employee comfort levels and more in the year ahead.”