The words Genchi Genbutsu will have no meaning to many people. The words are not intrinsically linked to the travel industry. With a global pandemic currently developing a second wave of infections, travel has been and will continue to be severely restricted. 2020 has been such an unprecedented year, there needs to be some reason for business travel to return. My belief is that Genchi Genbutsu will play a major part in the recovery.

An open door to the future of travel and Genchi Genbutsu
Are you ready to Genchi Genbutsu?

The Evolution of Digital Communication

Over the last four months DrivenByQ saw corporate travel steadily increase. Despite the quarantines and travel restrictions which keep popping up, businesses are attempting to get back to some kind of normality. Speaking with passengers however, it is clear business travel will never recover to the level it once was. The reason is not the pandemic. The reason is that businesses have learnt to communicate online. Skype, Zoom and Microsoft Teams have all come to the fore.

Accepting a digital communication paradigm there will be a long term reduction in the number of people travelling for business. Not everyone can work from home though or from their office for that matter. Some people will always need to travel. There are engineers, auditors, surveyors and others who need to be at the coal face in order to complete their task. Then there are people who chose to travel because it brings benefits.

Genchi Genbutsu – A Basic Principle

The Japanese and Toyota in particular have a phrase known as ‘Genchi Genbutsu’. It translates as ‘go see for yourself’. It encourages a person to go and view something first hand and rely on their own perception, not the interpretation of others. Being in a room or an environment with someone or something can give a totally different feel to a situation in comparison to viewing it online. In itself, this can lead to a different course of action for a manager or a business leader.

With the pandemic having caused restrictions in travel for more than six months, it is likely that numerous projects or subsidiary companies will have witnessed a degree of mission creep in that time. It may be too early to see the result of this just yet for many organizations but the chances are, at some stage, boots will be required on the ground to course-correct any such wavering or misinterpretation of the mission in hand. It means people will have to travel.

Experience For The Future

2010 picture of Mercedes S Class
A picture from the 2010 archive when business travel saw a recovery

I’m sure too, the economic situation caused by a downturn in many sectors will lead to bigger and stronger companies snapping up smaller or weaker ones. Looking back to 2010, a large part of the travel we provided proved to be for companies who were on an acquisition spree. Even if a company is not purchased, a due diligence process is required which leads up to a final decision being made. In turn, that requires travel.

The information gathering required as part of a due diligence process will no doubt spark a Genchi Genbutsu approach to business travel. Buying in to this philosophy presents opportunities on the horizon for a travel provider. As dire as the travel market currently is, keeping a long-term view of the industry and a thorough understanding of the businesses DrivenByQ supports, gives us the focus and tenacity required to sit out this current indent on the timeline of history.