Traditionally, March is the time of year when business organizations hold budget meetings. It is when finance people travel. March can also be when companies book extra journeys to use up what remains of an existing travel budget. On the other hand, some corporations stop their business travel completely until a new budget is assigned. This year when travel budgets are decided, the results could be very telling.
Covid-19 has virtually killed business travel. With the advent of online meetings, every business has experienced a noticeable decrease in their travel costs. The way these reductions are interpreted could be profound. One senior executive told me his global organization usually has a $500,000 travel budget. The accountants are now looking at cutting this ‘dramatically’ in light of the new online communication paradigm.
Other organizations have been hit hard by reduced sales. They too could be looking at cutting their travel. It is a normal practice (when cash gets tight) to reduce a travel budget along with a training and marketing budget. Only when opportunities arise do organizations reverse their decision to place business travel on hold.
At DrivenByQ, our customer base is made up of manufacturing companies. Some sectors are resilient and have experienced a boom during Covid-19 but as the pandemic restrictions begin to ease, I am not anticipating a rush of bookings. Instead I am anticipating a steady and gradual increase as confidence slowly returns. There will inevitably be a peak in demand at some stage but that might be a while yet. Maybe it will come as organizations need to address unfolding situations.
Undoubtedly, budget meetings are important – as is profitability. I just hope the financial professionals who are reviewing figures, don’t lose track of reality. Data needs context. Face-to-face meetings provide this. Furthermore, physical meetings help expose critical issues before they have chance to develop. I guess this year will reveal if business travel is still considered a worthwhile investment, or if it is the new elixir of cuts and potential savings.