SAP Concur – a travel, expense, and invoice management solutions firm – conducted a recent survey among 500 UK business travellers and 100 UK travel managers in order to determine attitudes towards business travel in the current climate – and it is seems that travel anxiety is a major factor affecting individuals anticipating travelling for business.
Indeed, SAP Concur’s survey identified that 43 per cent of respondents said they felt anxious about their upcoming business trip, and 37 per cent said they felt worried about it, with most concerned about infecting their families (65 per cent), getting sick themselves (56 per cent), and not knowing if other travellers are infected (45 per cent). With employee wellbeing being a priority among businesses, these should be concerning statistics, but it’s worth noting that this feeling isn’t consistent across the board – around a third (31 per cent) of business travellers said they felt positively about their next business trip, and 18 per cent even said they felt relieved.
Still, with close to half of respondents reporting feelings of anxiety, and 75 per cent of business travellers planning to take some degree of action if their employer does not implement new measures as they return to business travel (24 per cent insisted they will look for a new role if their concerns weren’t addressed), it’s important that companies effectively balance traveller safety and wellbeing with the need to re-start business travel – especially as 91 per cent of respondents said that they expect their company to experience negative outcomes due to restricted travel, including a reduced number of deals or contracts signed that require in-person interactions (47 per cent) and declines in new business wins that require in-person sales meetings (39 per cent).
So, how can businesses strike a balance? Through implementing efficient health and safety measures, as well as investing in technological solutions, says SAP Concur.
Fifty per cent of business travellers in the UK want to see their organisation investing in health and safety training, SAP Concur highlighted. And it seems that businesses are responding in kind: UK travel managers surveyed said that they understand the increased need for health and safety measures – 50 per cent are planning to implement mandatory health screenings for travellers, 44 per cent are planning to host mandatory travel safety training sessions, and 44 per cent are also implementing enhanced duty of care solutions and services.
“Emerging expectations around personal and community health and safety will mean a new era of decisions, processes, and innovations across the travel industry,” said Darryl McGarvey, Director of Channel Development at SAP Concur. “These survey findings underscore that the industry must come together to collectively adapt, stabilise, and reimagine the world of travel. Businesses need to be proactive about supporting and safeguarding employees as they prepare to travel again for work, whether putting pre-trip approvals and guidance in place or ensuring visibility into itineraries and spend information, wherever employees book travel.”
The importance of digital solutions in assisting the recovery of business travel should not go unmentioned, especially as many surveyed by SAP Concur underlined this themselves – mobile features that were regarded as being critical in accomplishing safe business travel included check-in (48 per cent), mobile safety information (46 per cent), and the ability to view and manage a trip itinerary on mobile (34 per cent)). Digital solutions are more and more proving to hold massive potential as lifelines for travelling employees, especially in these challenging times (more on that in the recent ‘Digital lifelines’ feature), and will ultimately play an integral role in improving business traveller confidence, which should, in turn, improve the outcome for the global travel industry.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on business travel and traveller confidence,” said McGarvey. “This research shows that as business travel recovers, traveller confidence will be more important than ever, and duty of care considerations will become a greater focus within travel policies.”