Will Business Travel Return?
Can you remix from Paul McCartney; rumours of the death of business travel have been greatly exaggerated?
Persistent travel bosses, blanketing airwaves with bullish pronouncements that human yearning for getting together will see the sector soar back soon, are no longer treated as sane.
At the very start of the mass WFH switch, several so-called business leaders preached video takeover.
A more considered thought, predicted a rebalancing, eg:
A #COVID Upside:
"I used to fly to meet a customer, even if it took all day or more, for a 1 Hr meeting. Now, the amount of time that goes into traveling isn't necessary. That’s the way people used to live, but it will come down now.”
~Tata Chairman, Natarajan Chandrasekaran#HR
— Mark C. Crowley (@MarkCCrowley) September 16, 2020
Nudger and all-round anti-Economics-er Rory Sutherland for one thinks a permanent such re-adjustment will emerge;
Business travel was in many ways just a social norm.
It was an obligation because if you didn’t do it, you looked like the lazy guy.
What the pandemic has revealed is that a lot of it was probably unnecessary and counter-productive. And extremely tiring and environmentally damaging.
I suspect that before the pandemic everybody on the planet in a business believed that they themselves could be trusted to work from home but nobody else could.
And it was a complete fallacy, [as exposed] … when Zoom got half-decent.
I too suspect the reality will prove to be appreciably more nuanced than a way-less versus recovery-plus polarised debate.
Not only for the kind of jet-setting inferred from the above, but also for more regular, mundane even, drive-bys.
Diaries will tilt. Where a balance may have been in favour of being a road warrior, many in-person calls will become video ones. A succession of quasi-routine, semi-process monitoring, new project member intro calls may well default to virtual.
The efficiency boost will remain apparent.
Where once four days a week on the road, this will reduce. To three. Even fewer.
Pavement pounding reserved for a select band of ‘special’ meet-ups.
What might these entail?
Those with battle-hardened sales antennae will want to establish physical presence early.
Build a solid platform for future relationship strength.
Yet can you really expect a prospect to devote a commute, real-life meeting room and handshake to someone with whom they don’t yet have a basis for long-term discussions?
And will they themselves be office-ready anyway?
Another bonus can be the Executive greet.
Where once gaining an audience within the hallowed C-Suite may have proved logistically and psychologically challenging, now access via a ten-minute zoom-hop surely a breezier proposition?
Something that can become part of your renewed sales process.
Matter-of-factly introduced with your prime contact as a typical yet essential procedure early doors.
As for the more glamour-end of business travel, again, some may first want to hold keystone activities in touching distance. Initial buying project kick-off, Board presentation, signing ceremony.
Older heads may suggest activities which have most impact on overall sales progression. Discovery workshop, informal solution/Proposal check, first implementation forum.
Whichever works best for your process, have you begun to identify which stage belongs in over what medium?