Business travel down as virtual meetings save on journeys - Fleet Summit
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  • Business travel down as virtual meetings save on journeys

    960 640 Stuart O'Brien

    There has been a large reduction in domestic business travel since the pandemic began, according to the the results of a Department for Transport survey – only 35% of businesses that took part said they had continued to conduct business travel during the pandemic.

    Ipsos MORI conducted the online survey of UK business decision-makers and found:-

    • A reduction in the proportion of employees travelling for business. Before the pandemic, an average (mean) of 40% of staff travelled for business and this reduced to 28% of staff in companies that continued to make business trips during the pandemic.
    • A reduction in the frequency of business travel. Before the pandemic 76% of businesses said staff travelling for business did so on average at least monthly, and 40% said they did so at least weekly – this reduced to 62% and 32% respectively amongst companies that continued to make business trips during the pandemic.
    • An increase in car (private vehicle / hire car / company car) as the main mode for business trips and a reduction in long distance rail and domestic air travel.
      • Use of private car as the main mode increased significantly – an average (mean) of 43% of trips used car as the main mode during the pandemic, compared to 29% of trips before the pandemic. Use of long distance and inter-city train services as the main mode decreased significantly from 15% of trips before the pandemic to 8% during the pandemic. Domestic airline services also decreased significantly, from 14% of trips pre-pandemic to 9% during the pandemic.

    When asked to assume that “Covid-19 is controlled to the point that all restrictions on business and the public have been lifted”, companies anticipate that travel will recover to slightly lower levels than pre-pandemic, with a similar mix of modes:-

    • Two fifths (41%) of companies expect to make fewer business trips than before the pandemic (27% somewhat less, 14% far less) and over a quarter (27%) expect to make more business trips (19% somewhat more, 8% far more). Nearly a third (30%) expect to make the same level of business trips.
    • Companies expect the proportion of employees travelling for business and their frequency of business travel to return to just below pre-pandemic levels:
      • Companies expect an average of 38% of employees within their companies to be travelling for business (vs. 40% before the pandemic). Only 1% said no employees will be travelling for business after the pandemic.
      • A third of companies (34%) expect staff who travel for business to do so on average at least weekly (vs. 40% before the pandemic) and 65% at least monthly (vs. 76% before the pandemic).
    • Assuming restrictions are no longer in place, companies expect to be using a similar mix of main modes as before the pandemic – i.e. a return to long-distance rail and domestic air travel, and a reduction in the proportion of car journeys compared to levels during the pandemic.
      • Companies expect an average (mean) of 33% of trips to use car as the main mode (vs. 29% pre-pandemic), 13% using long-distance rail as the main mode (vs. 15% pre-pandemic), 11% using domestic airline (vs. 14% pre-pandemic).
      • In terms of other modes, companies expect an average (mean) of 10% of trips to use local trains as the main mode (vs. 14% pre-pandemic, 11% during the pandemic), 7% using local buses (6% pre, 4% during), 5%using taxi (vs. 3% pre, and 5% during), and 3% using other modes incl. cycling/walking (vs. 3% pre, and 5% during).

    The impact of virtual meetings has been significant:-

    • Over nine in ten companies (93%) said they had replaced domestic business trips with virtual meetings during the pandemic – 44% said they had replaced all trips, 41% half or more, 8% less than half, and 7%
    • Half of companies (50%) agree that meetings which have only virtual attendees are an adequate replacement for face to face meetings, over a quarter (28%) disagree and nearly a quarter (23%) neither agree nor disagree.
    • Nearly six in ten companies (57%) agree that blended meetings (which have both virtual and face to face attendees) are an adequate replacement for face to face meetings, one in five (20%) disagree and nearly a quarter (23%) neither agree nor disagree.

    The survey sample comprised 465 company managers / executives with influence over business travel decisions for employees within their organisation.

    Domestic business trips were defined as any journey made within the UK for business purposes, including domestic travel to international airports/ports, but excluding commuting, and excluding overseas travel.

    Results were weighted to be representative of the overall population of UK businesses in terms of business size and sector.

    AUTHOR

    Stuart O'Brien

    All stories by: Stuart O'Brien