Corporate travel essentially stopped during the COVID-19 crisis and is only slowly recovering as companies reassess needs and weigh costs for resuming pre-pandemic practices.
Jason Boehm, founder and CEO of Aileron Management, is already seeing emerging trends in more remote work and shifts in business travel. Boehm’s Greenville-based company manages hospitality properties around the country.
He said hotels in cities that are traditional business destinations are hurting while those in tourist destinations have recovered much more quickly.
“Quite honestly, it’s somewhat frustrating in our industry,” Boehm said. “There are winners and losers … Nobody has a crystal ball.”
While data is still emerging about workers moving to cities like Greenville where they can enjoy the quality of life but work remotely, Boehm said he had a friend move to the area for that reason. Although the friend now lives in the Upstate, he works for a company based near Philadelphia.
“I think the trend of people relocating to Greenville while working for companies not in Greenville will continue,” Boehm said.
According to Michelle Newman, communications manager for Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport, passenger volume has returned to about 70% of pre-pandemic levels but is not expected to return to normal for at least another one to two years. She agreed with Boehm — as more workers relocate to the Upstate, business travel in and out of GSP could increase.
“I think we’re in a really interesting spot in the Upstate in that it’s really attractive for remote workers,” she said.
The online site JTB Business Travel posted an analysis of the year ahead in April and offered guidance to corporate travel managers in several key areas going forward.
The site emphasized that businesses will have to prioritize risk management when considering employee travel. As the virus that causes COVID-19 lingers around the world, managers will need to access realtime information about conditions at the destinations where employees are headed.
Other points highlighted in the analysis include:
- Performing a cost/benefit analysis of the travel being considered
- Ensuring employees have access to cloud-based technology to efficiently manage all aspects of travel
- Recognizing that remote work is here to stay and will likely drive an uptick in business travel in years to come