- A STILL AWESOME NEED FOR IN-PERSON MEETINGS
- BUT POST-PANDEMIC BUSINESS TRAVEL MUST BE “BUSINESS-CRITICAL” TO JUSTIFY THE FINANCIAL AND CARBON COST
- COMPANIES PROMOTING LONGER STAYS, CARBON CALCULATORS, PARTNER PRESSURE AND “LIFETY LOYALTY” IN THE NEW ERA OF BUSINESS-INTENSIVE TRAVEL
Business travel will be fewer but more focused, according to a panel of European business leaders responsible for business travel in 10 sectors brought together by a global hotel group Accor.
Accor’s annual Masters of Travel 2022 event was created to create a vision for meetings and business travel in a post-pandemic world. He revealed that sustainability and well-being are two of the key watchwords in a world where financial budgets are replaced by carbon budgets.
Business travel will remain at a lower level than before the pandemic, with Accor Sophie Hulgard, Senior Vice President Sales Northern Europe, expecting there to be 20% less business travel in 2022 compared to 2019, and another Masters of Travel delegate suggesting there would be 50% less travel. The forecast reduction is attributed to technology replacing the need to travel – the rest is essential business travel.
There is still a compelling need for face-to-face meetings, with Accor research revealing that workers expect to make 25% more revenue from face-to-face meetings than virtual meetings, to earn three times more and to enjoy a range of wellness benefits, including the social interaction with colleagues and associates that we sorely miss.
Indeed, delegates said engaging employees and motivating them to get back on the road, as they are now accustomed to working from home, is a priority for businesses in 2022, as they believe productivity and revenues increase when people connect in person. Accor research backs it up: Professionals predict they will close an average of 23% more deals per year when they can talk to their contacts face-to-face, rather than using only video conferencing or chat options. conference call.
However, business travel priorities have undergone a major shift.
Business trip with a purpose
The event revealed that in the post-pandemic world of business travel, any trip must justify its carbon cost. As one delegate put it, “Compensation is no longer enough, and our hotel partners must demonstrate that they are actively reducing our footprint.”
The ability to hold meetings virtually or with hybrid technology is popular with business leaders, but traveling for a meeting should be “business critical” to justify the financial and carbon cost. Summarizing the central importance of environmental issues, one delegate suggested that “In 2023, we will have a carbon budget instead of a financial budget.”
The Covid-19 pandemic has stimulated the emergence of “conscious journey”, where business travelers aim to make travel matter professionally, economically, sustainably and personally. Ways employers seek to travel with purpose include:
- Compare hotel and transportation options use carbon calculators to make travelers and customers more aware of the carbon cost of their travels. Tools such as The Accor carbon calculator increase awareness and understanding, demonstrating the impact of different elements of their trip during the trip planning process.
- Encourage longer stayseven if it means “bleisure” (combining work and pleasure), which in the past was not always considered benevolent. The “Linger Longer” trend is increasingly a factor for business travel, with one delegate explaining that “meeting four or five customers instead of one or two means less travel and less carbon”. A recent Accor survey of Northern European travelers suggested that 1 in 10 plan to extend their holidays in 2022 by working abroad and 53% like the freedom to work from anywhere, a flexibility that gives companies the possibility of simultaneously improving their employer brand and their carbon footprint of their business trips.
- Insisting on high sustainability standards and accepting no “green wash” partners, a delegate making it very clear that if the environmental claims are found to be false “The backlash will be huge”. Another delegate explained that “Hotels without a goal-based light green or sustainable program will not be considered suppliers” and delegates agreed that they wanted reassurance about third-party validation of all supplier green initiatives.
- Pushing the hospitality industry to take business travelers green and help them make more sustainable choices by educating them more clearly about the impact of certain choices when booking and during the stay itself.
- Insist on strong supplier references not only in environmental sustainability, but also in areas such as business ethics, responsible tourism, community engagement, diversity and inclusivity.
- Provide “fidelity to the way of life”, where business travelers are helped to correctly discover a destination during their business trips, for their own mental well-being and employee satisfaction. An Accor study suggests that 47% of workers lack social interaction with colleagues and associates. Masters of Travel identified the generational shift in business travellers, with one suggesting that “they might not mind a room upgrade but might like a city tour with free bike rental”. Panel members also want loyalty points to be flexible and comprehensive, and to extend beyond hotel stays to include drinks and meals – a core part of the ALL Accor Live Limitless program.
Sophie Hulgard, Senior Vice President Sales Northern Europe, Accor commented : “Twenty percent of business meetings may be gone forever, to be replaced by virtual equivalents or the realization that they simply weren’t needed in the first place. Instead, we are seeing the emergence of a much more focused business travel industry where companies want to maximize the value of every trip to reconnect teams, grow culture, strategize, close deals and strengthen relationships with employees.
“Business travel enables real connections and has incredible power and value, not only in financial terms but – in the new post-pandemic mindset – increased employee satisfaction and well-being and therefore a loyalty to employers But the future of business travel must banish inconsequential travel and replace it with business-critical travel, planned in a sustainable way and in the service of the employee, the employer and the the planet.
Accor is committed to promoting a low-carbon mindset throughout the company and with all its partners, developing and implementing tools and targets in various areas, including carbon and food waste.
In March 2021, Accor became the first major international hotel group to set long-term science-based targets to reduce its carbon emissions in line with the 1.5°C ambition of the Paris Agreement. In November 2021, COP26 saw Accor commit to achieving net zero emissions by 2050, the first international hotel group to do so. Accor signed the Glasgow Declaration on Climate Action in Tourism launched by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNTWO) on November 4, 2021. These commitments build on a decade of preparatory work in sustainable development of the pioneering Planet 21 initiative, launched by Accor in 2011.
Accor’s Business of Travel report is available here: https://accornnortherneuropetrends.com/businessoftravel.
ABOUT ACCOR, A GLOBAL HOTEL GROUP
Accor is a world leader in the hotel industry with 5,300 establishments and 10,000 restaurants in 110 countries. The group has one of the most diverse and integrated hotel ecosystems in the industry, comprising more than 40 brands of luxury, premium, midscale and budget hotels, entertainment and nightlife venues, restaurants and bars, branded private residences, shared accommodation properties, concierge services, co-working spaces and more. Accor’s unrivaled position in lifestyle hospitality – one of the fastest growing categories in the industry – is led by Ennismore, a joint venture, of which Accor holds a majority stake. Ennismore is a creative hospitality company with a global collective of entrepreneurial, founder-driven brands with purpose at their heart. Accor has an unrivaled portfolio of distinctive brands and more than 230,000 employees worldwide. Members benefit from the company’s comprehensive loyalty program – ALL – Accor Live Limitless – a daily lifestyle companion that provides access to a wide variety of rewards, services and experiences. Through its global sustainability commitments (such as achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050, global elimination of single-use plastics in its hotel guest experience, etc.), Accor Solidarity, RiiSE and ALL Heartist Fund initiatives, the Group focuses on driving positive action projects through business ethics, responsible tourism, environmental sustainability, community engagement, diversity and inclusiveness. Founded in 1967, Accor SA is headquartered in France and is listed on the Euronext Paris Stock Exchange (ISIN code: FR0000120404) and on the OTC market (Ticket: ACCYY) in the United States. For more information, visit group.accor.com or follow Accor on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedInand instagram.