What business travel trends should marketers expect in 2023?
Business travel was one of many industries that came to a halt due to the pandemic. Almost three years later, it’s still unclear which Covid-related changes — from remote work to changing traveling habits — will be permanent. Recent news of a new Covid variant and possible recession have been gaining traction.
So, we were curious. How has business travel changed since before Covid? Will business travel habits return to pre-Covid times?
We spoke to over 100 business travelers around the world using Glimpse, an easy and intuitive human response platform, to understand what they think and feel about the future of business travel in 2023.
Powered by natural language processing, Glimpse analyzed the language, emotions, and sentiments of all 124 global respondents in just 10 minutes!
Here are the insights we discovered.
1. Most business travelers expect to travel more in 2023 compared to before the pandemic.
About 40% of business travelers expect to travel more than they did before Covid. Only 22% believe they’ll travel less in 2023 and 36% believe they’ll travel at the same rate they did before the covid outbreak. It’s possible that with less restrictions on travel and higher Covid vaccination rates, people are more open to meeting in person for business.
2. Our sentiment analysis reveals that despite optimism to travel more in 2023, most companies are sticking to virtual meetings.
We asked respondents how their business travel habits have changed compared to before the Covid outbreak. The top three sentiments found in our responses were “optimistic”, “joyful”, and “cautious”.
Business travelers expressed caution when it came to following Covid guidelines, like mask-wearing and sanitizing. However, many reported feelings of optimism and joyfulness when describing the transition to more virtual meetings over those in-person.
This 59-year-old businessman from Arizona and his fellow respondents say that not only have they gone virtual, but now there are more restrictions on business travel, such as stricter approval processes and less travel out-of-state.
However, the most revealing data we found came from the sentiment analysis we gained from Glimpse.
Not only did a majority of business travelers feel positive about this transition to virtual meetings, some expressed that meeting online was just as effective as meeting in person.
This shows that though business travelers believe they will travel more in 2023, most are satisfied or even prefer meeting virtually for business. This shows that though business travelers believe they will travel more in 2023, most are satisfied or even prefer meeting virtually for business. This may be surprising for some, as many advocates for in-person interactions fear the 'virtual replacement of in-person experience', like we found in our case study with Meta.
3. Funding for business travel hasn’t changed much since 2022, but a recession is on their radar.
We asked respondents if their organization has increased or decreased funding for business travel so far in 2023. Though 24% say funding has increased, a majority claim it has remained the same.
Though organizations haven’t begun to decrease funding in light of an upcoming recession, Glimpse’s unique sentiment analysis found that respondents have mixed feelings about how the economy will affect business travel moving forward.
However, previous responses seem to indicate that rather than a decrease in funding, companies are restricting business travel to fewer, more important trips.
4. Business travelers aren’t too concerned about the new Covid variant XBB.1.5.
We asked business travelers how their habits may change in response to increasing cases of the new Covid variant XBB.1.5 in 2023.
Sixty-two percent of respondents stated they would either take more safety precautions while traveling or not change any habits at all.
When informed about the possibility of another mask mandate for public transport in the United States, a majority of responses were positive.
This 31-year-old conservative businessman from Nebraska believes masks are effective at keeping himself safe.
In fact, out of the 53% of people who reacted positively to the potential mask mandate, 22% reported they felt “joyful” about the news. While others marked sentiments such as “confident” or “optimistic” to express their mood.
Business travelers expect to travel more in 2023.
Funding for business travel has remained the same since 2022.
Companies are adopting stricter guidelines for business travel and prioritizing virtual meetings.
Business travelers are keeping tabs on the economy and the possibility of a recession.
Stay tuned for more Glimpse studies on global political and economic trends and the state of the marketing and communications industries.
Get in touch to see how we can help you gain valuable insights with our unique quick-turn, self-service human response platform.