Business vs. Pleasure Travel – what wins?

Although anecdotal, it appears that the world has not quite rebounded the way we #eventprofs had hoped. The ever-looming delta variant, restricted travel and vaccine passports, it appears people aren’t exactly clambering to travel again – although they are likely desperate to leave their homes!

In our recent conversations of which we have had many, we have observed that people are more likely to travel for personal reasons than for business. This came about in many conversations where people were traveling to meet with family and friends for occasions like weddings, gatherings, dinners, shows, but very few were indicating they were traveling for business. In fact, people were being given the option to travel for work and would opt to stay remote if allowed. Again, this is completely anecdotal and not backed up be research, but we wanted to know more so we started digging. In a Bloomberg Survey, 45 large companies in the US, Europe and Asia surveyed, 84% plan to spend less on business travel in a post pandemic world, and will have 20-40% reduction in travel budgets.

This begs the question, when is work travel deemed necessary and what can be accomplished via technology? So, if you are hosting an in-person tradeshow, will people put the same importance on it if their budget is tight? This also got us thinking – will travel for events return to pre-pandemic numbers and if not, what kind of technological accommodations will be made to those who wish to stay remote – yes, the “hybrid” question. If you are this far into the blog and hoping for answers you can stop now – because we don’t have them. But what we do have is questions and hypothesis.

We believe that virtual will now and forever play a role in events. We think events will continue to be reimagined, where the learning component becomes more online and in-person events become more heavily focused on networking. Having attendees sit and listen passively for 60-80% of your conference may not be the way of the future. People want to attend to connect with other people – so let them!

We also think that budgets will continue to be tight and that some meetings and events will remain entirely virtual – and this may be a really good thing. Whatever your projections, forecast or planned way forward is, there will always be a need to bring people together to learn, connect and engage. There won’t be a one-size fits all and that’s ok!