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How business travel will be reimagined in 2023

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Business travel is back on the agenda in 2023, but how will it differ from before the pandemic and how can partners prepare?

For many workers the daily grind has changed beyond recognition. Video meetings have replaced in-person ones and the commute doesn’t always take people further than their front door. Yet as the world continues to reopen, remote working hasn’t signalled the end of business travel. 

In fact, work trips are making a steady return. We surveyed more than 24,000 people across 32 countries and territories and discovered that travelling for business looks set to bounce back in 2023, with employees hoping to gain even more from these opportunities than before. 

Employees open to out-of-office experiences 

The remote working policies adopted during the pandemic aimed to remove boundaries and friction. For many, this included really embracing the “work from anywhere” aspect of remote working, which is why we created our Work-Friendly Programme to help you attract this type of traveller. 

Today, however, employees are also doubling down on work-life balance and putting up barriers to protect their leisure time. Our survey showed that 66% want to close laptops and preserve their vacations for complete escapism. Those in India (75%), Thailand (75%) and China (71%) in particular plan to keep their trips strictly work-free in 2023. 

But while almost half (49%) aren’t interested in working on vacation, they would consider clocking in for a company trip or retreat. 

Building relationships in real life

Increasingly employees are seeking opportunities to build camaraderie in person, away from the office. In fact, 44% of the global workforce is looking forward to their employer planning a ‘real life’ work trip, most noticeably those in Asia Pacific (51%). 

Over half (51%) of global employees surveyed – particularly those in Asia Pacific (57%) and Latin America (56%) – say they would like to see their employer using money saved from the shift to remote and hybrid working on retreats. From communal cooking classes to outdoor adventure activities and “survivor” bootcamps, employees are looking to reunite and bond with their teams, something that is almost impossible to replicate over Zoom. 

Better working relationships are better for businesses and employees alike, with more than half (59%) of those surveyed saying that exploring new places will inspire them to be more productive. 

Business traveller insights infographic

 

Creating positive travel moments

Business retreats can foster much-needed team building, so as a partner it’s important to communicate exactly how you can facilitate this. Work trips in 2023 go beyond the need for desks in rooms, dedicated workspaces and fast wifi. Do you have break-out areas, outdoor space or facilities that can support team activities and socialising?

If so, make sure you’re communicating this to prospective guests by using the ‘Facilities & Services’ section of the extranet to highlight all the business facilities you offer, as well as marketing any group activities that would be available to organisations during their stay.

How accommodation partners can make the most of business travel

We asked Thibaut Leroux, Booking.com’s Senior Manager of Global Corporate Partnerships, for his take on the business trends worth watching out for. Here’s what he had to say:

“We’re already noticing an uptick in small and large group bookings, and our predictions research suggests this is likely to continue. As remote working increases, companies need to find new ways to entertain the company’s culture. The office, in some cases, is no longer the place where company culture is developed and company trips or retreats are one of the alternatives implemented by corporations.

“This can be great news for accommodation partners looking to boost occupancy during low seasons, as the seasonality of business trips tend to be the opposite to leisure with March, June, September, October and November traditionally being the top months.

“Hotels – both independent and chains – remain the most popular choice for many business travellers. Alternative accommodations are on the rise – mainly serviced apartments offering a ‘hotel-like’ experience – but with a big focus on health and security measures, we do see a great opportunity for non-hotel accommodations to increase their market share in the business travel industry.” 

Leroux shared the following tips to help you capture business demand:

  • Offer competitive pricing – business travel can be particularly price-sensitive, with many corporations seeking out the best deal
  • Accept booking flexibility – business travellers look for flexible rates with same-day cancellation policies to help them respond to ever-changing events
  • Embrace sustainability – business travel policies are focusing more and more on sustainable travel
  • Highlight health and security – ensuring you comply with industry standards and highlighting the measures you have in place can help you appeal to organisations

 

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Discover more trends and insights

Find out how to capture demand and tap into traveller preferences with our 2023 Travel Predictions. 

Read more

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Takeaway
  • While nearly half of workers (49%) don’t want to work on vacation, they would consider a company retreat
  • 44% of the global workforce is looking forward to a ‘real life’ work trip
  • 1 in 2 employees (51%) want their employer to spend money saved by remote working on retreats
  • 59% believe exploring new places will inspire them to be more productive in the office