Showpad, the global sales enablement leader, found that UK businesses avoided over £8bn of spending on domestic and international business travel during 2020. According to data from McKinsey, travel during the pandemic fell to between 5% – 15% of 2019 levels, and with £4.7bn being spent on business trips abroad in 2019, and £4.4bn on domestic trips, UK firms have saved approximately £8.2bn.
“Salespeople, in particular, traditionally rely on frequent travel to meet with prospects and close deals, and they’ve had to pivot to virtual meetings during the Covid-19 pandemic,” commented Jim Preston, VP EMEA, Showpad. “However, it’s clear that not all businesses have adapted as well as others, with 46% of global business travellers expecting to see a decline in new business because of the decline in travel.”
Although statistics do show that over half (55%) of managers believe that their employees are either very or somewhat willing to travel for business in the near future, the feasibility of travel is impossible to predict. According to research from the Global Business Travel Association, only 7% of firms expect to resume international business travel in the near future, with 26% intending to resume domestic travel.
“All of these factors make it vitally important that organisations find a way to make their virtual meetings as impactful and engaging as traditional, face-to-face sessions,” continued Preston. “With significant uncertainty about local lockdowns, travel corridors and the likelihood of quarantine hotels, sales teams need to ensure that they are making the most of virtual measures for the foreseeable future.”
According to Deloitte, the UK sees approximately 16m overnight domestic business trips and 9m international business trips each year, and avoiding this travel also provides businesses with the equivalent of just over two weeks of time back.
“If businesses are to make the most of this time, and avoid declining sales, teams should make sure that they are optimising their use of remote selling technologies, building relationships and pipelines virtually rather than relying on business travel resuming quickly,” concluded Preston. “We’re all hopeful that one day we’ll be able to meet business contacts face to face, but until then, we’ve got to make the best of it.”