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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 calls have replaced in-person meetings, and the commute doesn’t always take people farther than their front door. Yet as the world continues to reopen, remote work hasn’t signaled 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 business travel 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 work policies adopted during the pandemic aimed to remove boundaries and friction. For many, this included really embracing the “work from anywhere” aspect of remote work, which is why we created our Work-Friendly Program to help you attract this type of traveler. 

However, employees today 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. 

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

Employees are increasingly seeking opportunities for team building in person, away from the office. In fact, 44% of the global workforce is looking forward to their employers 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’d like to see their employers use money saved from the shift to remote and hybrid work on retreats. From communal cooking classes to outdoor adventure activities and “survivor” boot camps, employees are looking to reunite and bond with their teams in ways almost impossible to replicate over Zoom. 

Strong 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, which is why 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 spaces, or facilities that can support team activities and socializing?

If so, make sure you’re communicating this to prospective guests by using the Extranet’s “Facilities & Services” section to highlight all the business facilities you offer, as well as marketing any group activities that are available to organizations during their stays.

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 business trends to look out for. Here’s what he had to say:

“We’re already noticing an uptick in small and large group bookings, and our 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 because the seasonality of business trips tend to be the opposite of 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 travelers. 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 these 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 travelers 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 in place can help you appeal to organizations

 

Traveller at airport
Discover more trends and insights

Learn how to capture demand and tap into traveler preferences with our 2023 traveler 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 work on retreats
  • 59% believe exploring new places will inspire them to be more productive in the office