16 August, 2021

What kind of business travel will "survive" the pandemic?

The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has also brought business travel to a standstill. Estimates are that 20% - 50% will never return. How big the collapse will be at the end of the day is of little interest, as conditions for such trips are still very volatile. It is much more important to consider what attributes of a "business" are likely to continue to drive travel in the future.

We need to abstract a little for this.

My thoughts are that the question of whether business interactions take place online or stationary is a function of various circumstances (which need to be explored). Stationary meetings would be more likely than online meetings if the following conditions were present (OR relationship; the more of these OR, the more likely stationary):

- hedonic, emotional and/or epistemic value associated with the location of the meeting

- comparatively long duration (>1 day)

- rather large number of people participating in the interactions

- high attractiveness of the location for accompanying persons
  (who can work from home; this could indeed lead to more "hybrid" business trips)

- low degree of planning; much is left to chance

- complex interaction content that at the same time requires intensive exchange

- confidential interaction content

- high value of chance encounters and interactions

- high number of agreed (individual) side meetings

- presence of haptic, tactile, thermal, olfactory, gustatory sensory impressions

- low degree of repetition of interactions (and thus of an occasion to meet)

- ...

The following attributes, on the other hand, are more likely to lead to an online meeting:

- little benefit other than the actual content of the meeting (focus!)

- comparably short duration (< 3-4 hours)

- rather small number of people participating in the interactions
  (needing little moderation)

- high degree of structure and planning
  (e.g., agenda which you have to work through, such as in project meetings)

- rather simple interaction content which requires little exchange

- no confidentiality issues (issues could almost be publicly discussed)

- no need for (chance) side meetings (individually agreed on)

- absence of any haptic, tactile, thermal, olfactory, gustatory sensory impressions

- repetitive types of meetings


This list is an open ended one. Comments and/ or additional attributes are welcomed!