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Will vaccine bring business air travel back?

Will vaccine bring business air travel back?

Old Dec 11, 20, 9:02 pm
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Will vaccine bring business air travel back?

What does the audience think. Will the vaccine bring travel back? I am not so sure. I know many folks who are like "I will never take a business trip again, thanks to Zoom" and others are eager to get back out on the road.

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Old Dec 11, 20, 10:10 pm
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It won't. COVID-19 is an excuse of business slowdown.
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Old Dec 11, 20, 10:17 pm
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For the last 10 years I have traveled about 40-45 weeks per year to client sites at their request. This year clients have realized that their previous requirement for on-site assistance may be overkill. I think that going forward there will be less insistence on being on-site and there will be incentive to do as much as possible remotely. We have proved it can be done and it saves money in project budgets when travel is reduced. There will still be some travel and on-site work, but not as much as in the past. I, for one, will miss it. I do not like working at home full time.
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Old Dec 11, 20, 10:51 pm
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From my experience many in person meetings can be replaced by teleconferences. But still occasionally I would like to meet the person I am doing business with. Not so much for the actuall business content but to know the other person better and build some personal relationship. In the future I most likely still will make business trips, but significantly less frequent.

I also find it better for creativity if you meet in a bigger group. These kind of meetings will happen again.



As soon as enough people are vaccinated the reproduction rate of the virus will be down significantly, the risk of being infected will be much less. Before that happens I would not get into any crowded spaces like airplanes, trains etc.
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Last edited by Unterwegs; Dec 11, 20 at 10:57 pm
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Old Dec 11, 20, 11:46 pm
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No.

Longer answer - no, it won’t for years.
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Old Dec 12, 20, 12:13 am
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Meeting virtually just isn't as efficient - at my company we've had several instances where we were trying to work stuff out with clients over Teams over the course of multiple days/weeks, and someone remarked that if only we could get on a plane to X country we could have it all sorted in a day. I think we'll see a drop in people being sent across the country for a 3 hour meeting... but I think many businesses will agree it's more cost-effective to do things in-person in a lot of cases.
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Old Dec 12, 20, 12:37 am
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FWIW, the guesstimates I hear bantered about by travel industry execs and others whose livelihoods depend on some level of accuracy expect a "permanent" 20-40% decline in business traffic compared to pre-pandemic levels. And that makes sense to me -- unlike prior airline industry downturns, videoconferencing technology has become robust and inexpensive enough to provide a perfect (enough) substitute for many in-person business trips. And while a majority of business traffic will eventually return, legacy airlines have centered their business models so heavily around business travelers even the predicted shifts will result in drastic changes to the way they operate going forward.
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Old Dec 12, 20, 2:22 am
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I'm confident most business trips will eventually return once restrictions are over. From what I've seen in the summer, most companies are keen to return to working from the office because face-to-face contact simply works better. Same will be true for business travel. I think we may see a decline in some rather pointless conferences, but the rest of business travel will make a comeback.

However, I'm sceptical as to whether the vaccine will be the dealbreaker that will let us get rid of most restrictions. I think the general population overestimates its effect on our day-to-day lifes.
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Old Dec 12, 20, 3:15 am
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Originally Posted by nerdbirdsjc View Post
FWIW, the guesstimates I hear bantered about by travel industry execs and others whose livelihoods depend on some level of accuracy expect a "permanent" 20-40% decline in business traffic compared to pre-pandemic levels. And that makes sense to me -- unlike prior airline industry downturns, videoconferencing technology has become robust and inexpensive enough to provide a perfect (enough) substitute for many in-person business trips. And while a majority of business traffic will eventually return, legacy airlines have centered their business models so heavily around business travelers even the predicted shifts will result in drastic changes to the way they operate going forward.
"perfect enough" isn't the term I hear anyone use to describe how we've operated over the last 9 months. Yes, we've made the best of a bad situation, but I have yet to hear a single person in my world of work say "you know, we should keep meeting virtually instead of getting together in person." unless you are a dedicated introvert, human beings crave the company of others. While a certain percentage of business travel won't rebound, I believe it might be 20% at most.

You build trust with clients and coworkers in person, not over a video chat.
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Old Dec 12, 20, 5:06 am
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Well, the reality for one 100k people tech company is that revenue is the same while having hundreds of millions saved on travel and giving up leases on number of buildings.

Do you envision a CFO which would say that ‘we need to go back as it was before?’
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Old Dec 12, 20, 5:51 am
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Like LostInAmerica I’m normally on the road 45+ weeks a year and for me this year is no different. With cut backs and ShutDowns and increased demands my customers are quicker to reach out and call for support. The same huge multinational companies that are following local government guidelines and reducing staffing are at the same time demanding increased production. Will the vaccine bring back normal travel? I honestly doubt it. OPM travel has taken a huge hit and corporations have saved Billions! The drop in OPM travel will lead to a drop in personal travel as money for discretionary spending disappears.
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Old Dec 12, 20, 7:17 am
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Sure come back somewhat but not to 2019 levels for a long time. Some trips are forever supplanted by technology. Some conference participants will engage virtually instead of flying to cities. Also there will be a recession for years. But many other business trips will come back. Maybe 70% of business travel at 2019 levels by 2030.

I can see modest growth in personal travel for those whose business travel will be curtailed significantly and who attached some personal time on some business trips.

In the next couple of years, there may be a burst in leisure travel from white collar workers who mostly maintained their paychecks but whose business and leisure travel have been dramatically cut back.
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Old Dec 12, 20, 8:49 am
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I am not so pessimistic on the outlook for business travel. I accept that for some Zoom will work in the short term at least. But when your competitors start knocking on your customers doors and build the relationships that do not work on a video call, then watch out. My business travel returned last month with a vengeance and I expect much the same in January. The work I do cannot be done over Zoom, thankfully. But for business travel to return in a meaningful way, restrictions and quarantines will need to be removed. Very few business trips are viable with more than a day or two of quarantine involved.
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Old Dec 12, 20, 9:59 am
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Originally Posted by jackjennings View Post
Meeting virtually just isn't as efficient - at my company we've had several instances where we were trying to work stuff out with clients over Teams over the course of multiple days/weeks, and someone remarked that if only we could get on a plane to X country we could have it all sorted in a day. I think we'll see a drop in people being sent across the country for a 3 hour meeting... but I think many businesses will agree it's more cost-effective to do things in-person in a lot of cases.
While I think it depends on the meeting type, but as a software consultant, I'm with you. Remote work has just never been as good as being in person, being able to move between teams, walk up to people's desks who otherwise wouldn't be able to hop on a meeting, and going to lunch with clients to build rapport. Also the travel, expenses, and mileage accounts keep me happier, which makes me more productive. Ultimately it costs the business more for me to be remote, since it takes me 2 weeks to work over zoom while having to coach the customer for every action, compared to a few days in person when I'm fully hands on.

The real question is, will the inevitable continued reduction in business travel make it better for those of us with status to get more upgrades, or will they open up status to more people, making it more difficult.
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Old Dec 12, 20, 10:34 am
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Originally Posted by invisible View Post
Well, the reality for one 100k people tech company is that revenue is the same while having hundreds of millions saved on travel and giving up leases on number of buildings.

Do you envision a CFO which would say that ‘we need to go back as it was before?’
Indeed, for many companies (esp. in tech sector) productivity and profitability have increased at unexpected levels over the past six months. While there's some lost value in not being able to meet clients in-person, there's also value gained from employees staying put and not burning cash and losing hours sitting in packed planes, delay-prone airports, expensive offices (and in traffic jams on the way to those offices), and overpriced hotel rooms. And lest we forget, as FTers we are something of an oddball bunch in liking the experience of travel -- most "road warriors" find it a grueling chore that came with the job, and don't miss it nearly as much as we think they do.
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