Think back to a time before the global pandemic. At the time, when someone mentioned “business trips” to you, what image appeared in your ad? Perhaps George Clooney was dressed elegantly as he navigated airports with a small handbag and frequent flyer. Michael Scott may have been pretending to be a mysterious international guy who travels business class, intrigued by the concierge service at his Winnipeg hotel. Or maybe, it was your boss or boss, the traveling salesperson, or that group of colleagues who went to trade shows every year. No matter what you pictured, the bottom line is the same. Business travel was mostly well defined, it was straightforward. Either you’ve traveled to build a potential client relationship, meet a business partner, or close a deal, for example – or you simply haven’t. Today, things are different. The role of business or corporate travel within organizations is changing, preparing to serve a different purpose in an increasingly digital world. The coronavirus pandemic has had a huge impact on nearly every aspect of our personal and professional lives – and that includes the way we work and treat our colleagues. The new normal in the future of work After lockdowns and travel bans saw a 65% drop in international mobility at the height of the global health crisis, companies have found an opportunity to rethink how they operate. The blended business model was born out of this context, offering employees “the best of both worlds” by giving them the flexibility to combine working from home and meeting in person. In fact, 79% of CEOs revealed that they plan to implement this type of business model in their companies. With such a seismic shift towards hybrid and remote frameworks, it is only natural that the workforce becomes more digitized and teams are increasingly dispersed. However, humans are naturally a social species. We thrive on collaboration, and arguably some of humanity’s greatest endeavours, developments and progress have come as a result of this ability to work together. Did you know that the saying “Rome was not built in a day”? Well, it wasn’t built by just one person. It is this collaboration and interaction that knowledge workers crave. A recent TravelPerk study shows that the main reason employees want to meet each other face to face is to build relationships in the real world, in a way that they simply cannot if they work 100% online using video conferencing tools like Zoom or Microsoft Teams. So how do you do that when you have team members spread across 30 different countries, 12 separate regions, and 95 different cities? The answer is very simple. business trip. Business travel is the key to simply unlocking the future of work – business travel today is the tool that will facilitate personal interaction in an increasingly decentralized and distributed world. It’s the ship, if you want, to get people together – the train goes to the station, the plane lands on time. This is not just guesswork or wishful thinking. Global data reveals that business travel is making a big comeback in a post-COVID world: Data Balance: GBTA The business travel industry is changing its own game. It is a process that democratizes and becomes a tool for making the employee experience more complete, rewarding and connected. With distributed teams becoming the norm, employees are looking for the right balance of flexibility and having purposeful and purpose-oriented interactions with their colleagues face-to-face. Not only that, but companies are looking for ways to retain talent – and this delicate balance between real-life interaction and flexibility lies in the answer. Flexibility is clearly the leading trend emerging in the post-pandemic world of work. In fact, 75% of employees claim that they would forgo other perks in favor of being able to juggle their work environment. Furthermore, 54% of recruits reported that jobs were turned down due to a lack of flexibility. However, this does not mean that flexibility means not seeing colleagues eye to eye. What employees really want in the modern workplace is the ability to shape their work life and environment according to their personal and professional needs. And yes, this includes meeting up with colleagues in real life. In fact, the ability to go to the office or move between centers is a feature employees seek: 72% of respondents say they would like to go to the office one to two days a week, 63%. Desire to choose when to attend Key motivations for colleagues wanting to travel for work or go to the office include: Meeting face-to-face to attend interactive sessions such as workshops or team building activities (26%) Client visits (21%) Taking advantage of a mixed work environment to conduct Constructive, 1:1 meetings in person with their team members or managers (20%) Interviewing potential job candidates in real life (18%) Informal conversations with colleagues and face-to-face meetings are #1 and #2 most things employees miss when working remotely (68% and 46%, respectively) What’s more, both employees and companies are looking forward to returning to company-wide social events, team buildings, and gatherings: something we’re seeing more and more every time today within the booking trends of our customers. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the higher adoption of hybrid or remote work arrangements has doubled the frequency of meeting co-workers from multiple locations on the same day: Moreover, a cool new trend is emerging where events, workshops, and outdoor locations are becoming prominent reasons to travel In order to operate in the new normal. Offsites, in particular, have doubled in size as a major reason for the trip since before the pandemic — rising at the beginning or end of a given quarter. Events have also increased 30% in volume “as a reason to travel” since before the pandemic. Introducing the future of business travel to a new world The Cambridge Dictionary defines “business trips” as trips undertaken for business purposes. At TravelPerk, we’ve decided to take this definition a step further. Business travel: When you choose to meet colleagues, clients, and partners in real life because the value of meeting in person goes beyond the digital workspace. What becomes business travel is essentially a tool for personal collaboration, such as a meeting room or office space. It takes on multiple purposes – from strengthening relationships to immersing employees in your company culture, and from increasing retention to putting employee well-being and happiness first. And with these new purposes come new types of business trips, including: trips between centers to meet colleagues and engage in teamwork Frequent trips to attend company-wide kick-off and strategy sessions Regular off-site trips, team-building retreats and social events Mixing business with leisure travel (known as Also called “entertainment”) you can combine business with play trips for networking opportunities at conferences, summits or trade shows. And TravelPerk is 100% here – we’ve changed our mission statement to reflect that. We are now in the process of connecting people in real life in a fun and sustainable way. Fun because we’ve seen firsthand the magic that comes when pals come together – explosions of inspiration, flashes of creativity, laughter, bonds formed…and sustainable because while we believe travel needs and will return (and even exceed) pre-pandemic rates, it shouldn’t come on environment account. Everything we build here at TravelPerk is focused on making business travel as simple as possible at every stage of the journey – from booking to travel to handling reports. For us, it’s all about helping you work better — we’re kind of like Slack, only we’re bringing conversations into real life, not on screen. This is really why we strongly believe that business travel will be an essential component of the future of work. It will shape relationships, company cultures, and it will be the bridge that connects people in a meaningful, purposeful and fun way. So, if you agree with me, hop on the IRL 2.0 train and reach out to find out how we can hold important meetings in person together.