A new study commissioned by SAP Concur shows increasing willingness among 99 per cent Indian business travellers to resume work trips within the next 12 months. Over 78 per cent are ‘very willing’ to get back on work trips. This is higher than the global average.
Respondents to the survey carried out in India, Singapore, Malaysia, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand believe that the current travel hiatus is hurting their careers − by impeding their business goals and personal lives. While professionals are eager to restart in-person meetings soon − they also want greater control over how they will travel, so that their safety and health can be better safeguarded amidst the pandemic.
“Covid-19 has upended business travel in the the past year and a half. Yet, it has also reaffirmed business travel’s importance in forging business and personal connections, and enabling career advancement,” said Dr Carl Jones, Vice President and Head, Strategy, SAP Concur Asia Pacific.
“While uncertainty continues to linger around travel curbs, firms can support business travellers by updating travel policies to provide more flexibility in flight and accomodation selection, better protecting employees’ health and safety. Then as vaccinations progress and travel bubbles form in the coming months, they will be better positioned to enable safe travel, facilitating business growth and talent retention,” added Jones.
Key findings from the study of Indian business travelers include:
- Travellers believe inability to travel will hurt them both professionally as well as personally
Like their global counterparts, over 84% Indian business persons worry that the inability to increase travel will affect them personally.
On the business front, Indian respondents worry that if their organisation does not increase business travel, it will be difficult to sign new deals (47 per cent), build new relationships (41 per cent) and renew contracts with existing clients (43 per cent).
Overall, in the APAC region, nine per cent are afraid their business will shut down and 14 per cent worry that they will lose their jobs. These grave concerns reveal respondents’ perceptions that business travel is a vital vehicle to strengthen business relationships for career success, and experience new places to broaden personal horizons.
- Flexibility crucial for employee safety
- Flexibility is now the most pressing need for business travelers. Indian business travelers cite the ability to select their preferred mode of travel and to book their travel directly on supplier websites, such as airlines or hotels as essential for protecting their health and safety.
- Indian travelers are keen on staying in larger hotels (54 per cent), using their personal vehicle instead of public transportation (49 per cent) and prioritising trips with shorter distance (42 per cent).
- Two in three Indian business travelers state that they want to return to business travel on their own terms.
With growing awareness about social distancing, sanitising, and adhering to all Covid-related protocols, there’s a sense of personal responsibility and not letting their guard down among business travelers. About two in five Indian business travelers hold themselves most responsible for their health and safety on a trip. A significant section of respondents have also learned to live with the pandemic, taking all necessary precautions. 58 per cent Indian business travelers want to loosen travel policy restrictions or return to pre Covid- 19 policy.
“Employees are ready to return to business travel, but on their own terms. The actions that businesses take in the next 12 months to protect traveller safety and health could make or break their ability to acquire and retain valuable employees amid a competitive market for talent,” commented Jones.
“As restrictions lift and normalcy resumes, there would be an uptick in demand for business travel, albeit with fresh modifications and impetus on flexibility, convenience and choice. Even though businesses have successfully adapted and are strategizing well to navigate in a post-pandemic world, the importance of business travel to develop connections, ideate and network remains undiminished,” says Mankiran Chowhan, Managing Director – India, SAP Concur.
“Going forward companies will have to rejig their travel policies and put employee safety and well-being first for a more productive and wholesome travel experience,” she adds.