In our last edition of “Bow-Tie Briefing” three weeks ago, a long time corporate travel industry veteran, Amarnath Lal Das, the vice president of travel, meeting and events with Accenture in India, shared his views on a survey published by IdeaWorks Company. Let’s continue the in-depth dialogue in this edition.
Benson: How about “conventions and trade shows”, which are amongst the second most important reasons for airline business travel. What’s your view?
Amarnath: For “conventions and trade shows” business trips, due to many companies having cut their budgets, there will be a small drop in this area. Moreover many traditional sponsors such as hotels, airlines, ground transportation companies and TMCs are suffering heavy losses because of COVID. As a consequence, sponsorship funding from these vendors is anticipated to be reduced. Nevertheless, overall business travel in this area will not be hugely impacted as there are many B-to-B exhibitions, and a lot of global procurement exercises will still happen in this way. The need to be physically present will remain a strong allure, but virtual online events will be more widely available.
Benson: So true, many business procurement exercises absolutely need the trade show platform. Next on the list is “intra-company meetings”. May we have your comments?
Amarnath: For “intra-company meetings” business trips, my view is that this will be the most impacted sector for a few reasons. Firstly, people are now used to the virtual environment by using ZOOM, TEAMS, ON24…etc. Moreover, leadership has got the taste of saving money. CFOs from around the world, for instance, are happy to see the massive cost avoidance of business travel in the past year or so due to COVID. Secondly, working from home is a new notion and staff may no longer have physical offices. Hence, intra-office meetings will reduce. My bold prediction is a minimum 40% drop in this category of trip. For some businesses, such as high-tech companies, the drop could be even larger.
Benson: Your opinion in this perspective is similar to Bill Gates’ earlier comments to CNBC. But do you think there are other new opportunities for corporate travel to replenish the recovery of business travel?
Amarnath: Benson, there are always two sides of the coin and don’t take me wrong, I am very optimistic on the recovery of corporate travel. Although, there will be some drop in some areas, there are always some new opportunities. There is always new energy in the global economy such as the newly signed RCEP – Regional Cooperative Economic Partnership agreement with altogether 15 countries included which will form the largest free trade zone in the world; EU-China CAI; The Comprehensive Agreement of Investment; The global carbon free initiatives which created many brand new environmental friendly new start-up businesses…etc. All of these will enhance more business travelling and see some more unprecedented travel momentum. Corporate travel’s future is bright, but nevertheless, it will take some more time to recover. The progress of global vaccination is one of the key factors to speed up the recovery.
Benson: Million thanks for your insights, Amarnath.
This concludes the tête-à-tête with our industry guru Amarnath. My afterthought of these “Bow-Tie Briefing” series is that, how auspicious we are in our beloved corporate travel industry with many superb industry experts who are whole-heartedly nurturing our fellow industry members. Our CTC pledge is to continue to ensure the best practices are being shared. More interesting topics will come in our next edition. 😊