How to make business travel fun again

28
6 min read

Why does it feel so exhausting?

JOHANNESBURG, 29 May 2023

If your mid-year diary shows less Zoom and more meetings across the globe, don’t feel alarmed if the prospect fills you with more anxiety than anticipation.

Deloitte reported in 2022 that although corporate travel in 2021 saw a slow and steady upturn, business travel still remained at around 10% of pre-Covid numbers. Then suddenly, 2022 arrived. Deloitte’s 2023 Corporate Travel report showed that business travel grew two-fold in just 12 months. While business travel’s return is exciting, it doesn’t mean travellers are 100% ready to spring back into their pre-pandemic routine and start clocking up air miles!

Travelling for business can seem much more stressful (and exhausting) today because it takes us out of our newly established routines. However, according to a July 2022 GBTA survey, 85% of business travellers stated that they need to travel to accomplish their business goals … which means we have to make it easier on ourselves. You can do this by:

Planning ahead

“Having a travel management company (TMC) or travel consultant in your corner will take away at least half the stress of wondering if you’re dotted all the i’s and crossed all the t’s,” says Bonnie Smith, GM Corporate Traveller. “From ensuring you have the necessary visa, entry permits and other documentation to ensuring that you don’t have to worry about navigating the route from the airport to your hotel in a strange city, never before have travellers needed more expert assistance.”

Happily, companies have become much more conscious about whether a trip is really necessary. This means a lot of groundwork is done virtually and by the time you need to hit the road, solid plans should be in place and a good foundation laid.

Re-establishing connections virtually first

While there was a time when virtual meetings left us muted, we’re now very comfortable with virtual platforms. Use that to your advantage. Reduce the nervousness of meeting strangers (or those you haven’t seen in a long time) by scheduling some virtual meetings to touch base first and break the ice before meeting them again in person. Not only will your first in-person meeting then be much more comfortable and enjoyable for both parties, but you can reduce some of the ‘anticipatory’ stress.

A 2022 Forbes Health survey, conducted by OnePoll, revealed that 59% of respondents find it harder to form relationships post Covid, compared to just 13% of people who find it easier. Additionally, 62% of respondents reported feeling anxious about the thought of socialising with strangers. The message? You’re not alone if you’re feeling a little socially awkward.

Clustering your meetings

Be strategic with your time away. Cluster as many meetings as you can in one destination/region in order to maximise your time – avoiding non-essential trips wherever possible.

Building-in downtime

Experts agree that it’s a mistake to think we can just ‘bounce back’ to the same level of business travel we did prior to a global pandemic without any effects.

Simply put, we’re not used to it yet and in many ways, we’re now smarter and more strategic with our time and how best we perform.

Filling your diary with back-to-back meetings and heading straight into an important meeting the minute you get off an overnight flight is, at least for the average individual, not always the best for one’s mental health and wellbeing. Of course, it does boil down to personal preference and that’s where your travel manager comes in – they’ll learn how you prefer to operate.

Perhaps you function best in the morning and would like all your important meetings over by noon – or you’d rather catch up on emails and work at your hotel before heading into afternoon strategy sessions.

But whatever your preference, recovery time is vital. Ensure you have enough time to get a good night’s sleep, adjust to jet lag if needed and just relax and catch your breath. And to make it fun? Have a list of things you’d love to see and do while away – after all, a fun, happy trip is also a more productive one.

Getting outdoors

Wellness remains a top priority both in the office and on the road. Increasingly, hotels that offer travellers the chance to hit the wellness reset button will come up tops. Look out for accommodation options that allow you to get in some wellness time – whether it’s in an outdoor garden, on a walking trail, in a yoga studio or an on-site gym.

Adding a dose of joy

What brings you joy? Consciously bringing in moments of joy can transform any business trip. The days of business travel only involving you seeing the inside of a conference room should be long gone. Build in time to sit in a trendy coffee shop, visit a museum or art gallery – and don’t feel guilty about excusing yourself before the official evening activities to get in a little sightseeing.

Exploring bleisure opportunities

Chat to your organisation about their approach to ‘bleisure’ (combining business and leisure trips) as adding on a day (or two) pre- or post-trip is a great way to up the fun factor!

Being kind to yourself

Don’t expect yourself to operate at the same pace you did pre-pandemic. The world has changed. The travel landscape has also changed, and as Smith explains, business travel is dynamic, changeable and exciting. Lean on the experts, build plenty of time into your trip (avoid both tight connections and long layovers where possible), and add a little joy back into travelling for work!

For more information about Corporate Traveller, or to interview Corporate Traveller South Africa GM Bonnie Smith, call Dorine Reinstein on 083 278 8994 or email dorine@bigambitions.co.za.

**ends**

About Corporate Traveller

Corporate Traveller is a division of the Flight Centre Travel Group, dedicated to saving businesses across Southern Africa time and money. Corporate Traveller has the benefit of being part of the world’s third-largest travel retailer, leveraging its global negotiating strength. It has access to over 50 of the world’s leading airlines and deals with more than 100 000 hotels around the world to guarantee savings for clients. Corporate Traveller provides clear, consolidated reporting of all its clients’ travel activities, helping them to control travel spend and identify opportunities to save costs.

Issued by:

Big Ambitions

Dorine Reinstein

dorine@bigambitions.co.za