Writer: Joey Garrand
5 min read June 2021 — As personal travel picks up speed, the question remains: What will business travel look like going forward? With Zoom meetings becoming the norm over the past year, will the world ever return to normal business travel activity? What impact is the lack of business travel having on businesses? Overall, it seems there will be a permanent reduction in business travel going forward as the efficiency and effectiveness of digital communications have simply driven portions of business travel into obsolescence. However, business travel will still hold importance in the post-pandemic world. Here is what local leaders of the business community told Invest: with regard to the state of and outlook for business travel.
Jose Lozano, President & CEO, Choose New Jersey
Our team is going through the process of getting vaccinated and trying to create a safer environment for travel to come back. We need to get back on the road and we plan to do that as fast as we possibly can, possibly by late summer.
Travel is a huge component of the work we do. One cannot underestimate the value of sitting across the table from someone, face to face, and doing a pitch about why New Jersey is a great place to do business. We have to be safe in the way we do it, we have to be cautious, but we cannot shy away from it.
2019 was one of our biggest travel years. I personally flew close to 100,000 miles that year alone. I was only able to do two quick trips in 2020 prior to the pandemic kicking in. For 2021, the realistic odds are we will end up in Israel, which we need to revisit. We will end up in Europe in some fashion as well. India may not be in the cards for 2021 but we do see it being a very early part of 2022. If we saw an opportunity tomorrow to get on a plane and promote New Jersey, I would be en route to the airport right now.
Robert White, President & CEO, 1st Colonial Community Bank
We’ve included a bit more in the budget for 2021 business travel. With the vaccines becoming more widely available, we do believe that perhaps as early as June 2021 we will see more in-person meetings happening. We’re planning to participate where it makes sense. We do anticipate seeing business travel increase. There are already encouraging signs regarding personal travel. We’re already hearing that Philadelphia airport productivity and capacity has increased considerably. With all the pent-up demand, both on the business and personal side, we are bound to see an increase in activity.
Last year, business travel was extremely low to nonexistent, so the increase is going to be dramatic in 2021 no matter the figure. It will certainly be up compared to 2020.
This question is also directly tied to the new world that we are in. A significant portion of companies are still anticipating that they will stay remote. I cannot say that I think that will last indefinitely. I know from our perspective that we did not see the productivity that we expected from remote staff, although that could be very specific to each company. But we believe it was important to get the team back in the office, with safe and effective practices in place to limit any potential exposure to the COVID-19 virus.
Corey Apirian, CEO, Davinci Micro Fulfillment
There is something to be said about not having that expense on your profit and loss statement. The world has evolved, but there is still a need for a personal touch. We leased two facilities across the country and hired a team for each of them without even physically seeing the buildings and doing everything through Zoom and other digital walkthroughs. It worked out pretty well. But there is nothing like going to kick the tires yourself, so to speak. When it comes to that, we are looking forward to traveling again. I do enjoy seeing customers and being with our team.
Rick Schwartz, Principal & Managing Partner, Veritas Real Estate
Personal travel is almost back to normal. I think business travel will change and it will take longer for it to recover. Local travel will also make a comeback. People are always looking for a competitive edge, and while you may not have your corporate retreat where you bring a hundred people to one location, I think people will go out and have initial meetings. The ongoing relationship meetings and smaller meetings to gain new business and foster relationships are going to be the first to come back. Video calls are nothing new, people had just not figured out how to do it before the pandemic.
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