Business travel rebound hit by slowing economy
“It’s about building relationships,” he said. “It’s very difficult to do that online.”
On the other hand, short business meetings and employee training sessions can continue to take place online, which is cheaper than in person, said Grant Caplan, president of Procurigence, a consulting firm in Houston which advises companies on their spending on business travel, meetings and events.
Even though business travel has resumed, hotels, airlines and airports are still understaffed. A survey of hoteliers by the American Hotel and Lodging Association, a trade group, released in October, found that 87% of respondents were experiencing staff shortages. While this is an improvement from May, when 97% of respondents said they were understaffed, the current results do not bode well for smooth hotel stays.
Flight disruptions, particularly in the United States and Europe – due to weather delays, inadequate flight crews or air traffic control and airport security issues – have been notoriously high, particularly in the beginning of this year.
While “we can’t say these disruptions have discouraged business travel, they have clearly complicated” the traveler experience, said Kathy Bedell, senior vice president of Americas and affiliate program for BCD Travel, a travel management company.
Kellie Kessler, a clinical pharmaceutical researcher in Raleigh, North Carolina, said the travel disruptions she faced this year were too great. She recently changed jobs to one that requires her to travel for business 10% of the time, compared to 80% in her previous job.
“The reason I took a non-travel position is because I can count on one hand the number of on-time flights I’ve had this year,” she said.