As more people are getting vaccinated and countries are reopening borders, business travelers in the Asia Pacific (APAC) are eager to resume their work trips. Respondents of recent new research commissioned by the SAP Concur mention that the current travel hiatus is hurting their careers − by impeding their business goals − and personal lives.
The majority of professionals in Singapore, Malaysia, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand are looking forward to be able to travel again. As much as 95% of survey respondents are “willing” to travel in the next 12 months, including 63% who are “very willing” to do so. While they hope to restart their in-person meetings soon, they also want greater control over how they will travel, so that their safety and health can be better safeguarded amid the pandemic.
“Covid-19 has upended business travel in the past year and a half. Yet, it has also reaffirmed business travel’s importance in forging business and personal connections, and enabling career advancement,” said Dr Carl Jones, Vice President and Head of Strategy for SAP Concur Asia Pacific.
“While uncertainty continues to linger around travel curbs, firms can support business travelers by updating travel policies to provide more flexibility in flight and accommodation selection, better-protecting employees’ health and safety. Then as vaccinations progress and travel bubbles form in the coming months, they will be better positioned to enable safe travel, facilitating business growth and talent retention.”
Other notable findings from the study of 1,050 APAC business travelers include:
Travelers believe their career success depends on a return to business travel
Like their global counterparts, four in five APAC respondents (81% in APAC vs. 80% globally) worry that the inability to increase business travel will affect them personally. These concerns include:
On the business front, APAC respondents fret that if their organization does not increase business travel in the year, it will be harder to sign new deals (40%), build new relationships (39%), and renew contracts with existing clients (39%).
In fact, 9% are afraid their business will shut down, and 14% worry that they will lose their jobs. For those who are very frequent travelers, this latter figure jumps to 22%. These grave concerns reveal respondents’ perceptions that business travel is a vital vehicle to strengthen business relationships for career success and experience new places to broaden personal horizons.
Changing traveler expectations forcing organizations to rethink their travel policies
Covid-19 has also altered power dynamics in the workplace. Business travelers will consider their options if employers do not match their expectations.
Flexibility helps employees feel safe
Flexibility is now the most pressing need for APAC business travelers, ahead of their vaccination-related demands (74% vs. 64%).
“Employees are ready to return to business travel, but on their own terms,” said Dr Jones. “The actions that businesses take in the next 12 months to protect traveler safety and health could make or break their ability to acquire and retain valuable employees amid a competitive market for talent.”