Writer: Joey Garrand
4 min read June 2021 — Business travel and the future of in-person communication is a hot topic of conversation. With the great efficiency and effectiveness of virtual meetings, there are question marks regarding the purpose served by in-person meetings. Most believe the death of business travel is greatly exaggerated and there is little doubt that it will return, although the approach may be a little different. Invest: asked local business leaders to weigh in.
Bradley Jackson, President & CEO, Tennessee Chamber of Commerce & Industry/Tennessee Manufacturers Association
We are seeing steady increases that are outpacing a number of other states. We are optimistic that it will ramp up to the degree that we were seeing pre-pandemic, as people become more comfortable with increased travel and hospitality services. As a state, we’ve been able to open up safely and responsibly and utilize federal stimulus dollars to help businesses that were negatively impacted during the pandemic. We’ve seen a quicker pace to recovery than a lot of other states that haven’t opened up as much as Tennessee has.
Geoffrey Stewart, Office Managing Partner, Nashville, Aprio LLP
I’m not sure when it will go back to what we knew. People have discovered that they can help control some costs by doing meetings virtually. There are going to be percentages of folks who are still going to feel like they need to sit across from you, especially when it is time for big decision-making meetings.
I would say we should be expecting at least a 50% increase in business travel compared to 2020. I do think the one thing that will never be exactly like it was is office space. Depending on how we have grown by the time our lease is up, we will likely cut down on space. It is driven by two things. One, we figured out we can work as efficiently remotely as we can in the office. Two, everyone has gotten up to three hours a day back in their life because they do not need to commute anymore. We can have people spend more time with their families whereas before our profession and locations prevented that.
Sarah Hardee, President, Patterson Hardee & Ballentine, P.C. (PHB CPAs)
Many of our staff are becoming fully vaccinated. We’re grateful they made the decision to do that. That is not a decision that we would force on our employees or our clients but it will allow us to work more closely through our busy season. One of the things that we do in the audit department is to take the CFO or the CEO of a client company to lunch one day during our field work. Doing that has double benefits. For one, we are building a relationship with our client that helps us in the future. Second, they almost always say something I need to know for the audit. When you talk to your client and they are sitting behind their desk, they always say their business is about the same as last year. Then you go to lunch and you find out they have a whole new product line. It is important to have that talking time outside an office setting.
Paul Allen, President, Wealth Strategies Partners
I am absolutely seeing a recovery with business travel. People want to meet face-to-face, and they are itching to go places. I first noticed the recovery during spring break in Sarasota. It was so busy you couldn’t even get an Uber out of the airport. We’re going to see a massive shift toward increased travel this year. In our firm, I expect that we’ll be traveling 100% to 200% more compared to last year. I am already back on the road meeting with clients.
For more information, visit: