D’know, I think things are finally on the move. For nearly two years, we’ve all been sat at home and even those who were fed up with travelling for business then are climbing the walls now.
Restrictions are lifted in the UK and we’re free to go, at least in theory, depending on how other countries regard us.
During the pandemic, business travel was about those going off to fix things or dig something up or do other ‘proper’ jobs. Now we’re all unleashed, I’ve noticed it’s those senior executives that are keen to get away first. Of course, they’re the most important people, but I can’t help feeling too that they’ve just missed it.
To some, turning left when they board a flight is as important as the car they own, and they’re longing for that thrill. There’s good news for budget holders though; premium fares are not as premium as they used to be, so give execs some slack when they come asking for business class – purely for health and safety/social distancing reasons, of course.
We’re seeing real intent among the corporates that are contacting us; there are very few tyre kickers, they’re only calling us when they’re ready to go. There’s probably also some thinking at higher levels that staff won’t be ready to go out to meet clients while they’re not even going into their own office.
The slow gearing up has helped us, because it’s been easier to offer the handholding and concierge services asked for due to the pandemic and I think TMCs are coming into their own here.
Apart from masks and all the other Covid-related necessities, I asked myself how air travel would be different after our enforced almost two-year break. And I decided it won’t be different enough.
It’s nothing to do with the pandemic, it’s just that we’re now 10 years into New Distribution Capability (NDC) and all those great things that we’ve been promised haven’t materialised. Part of me hoped that we’d all troop back like children to a new school term finding the classroom had been redecorated, but I’m still waiting for my NDC customer-enriched experience where my airport car park space is reserved and the film I’ve not finished on Netflix is streamed to me on the plane’s in-flight entertainment system. It hasn’t happened.
Speaking of in-flight entertainment, don’t go thinking that just because you’re sat on a flight that you’ve finally escaped those Zoom meetings. There will be demand from some corporate travellers to have the meeting before the meeting; be warned, in-flight video conferencing is on its way.
Nevertheless, as we gear up again, no trips in the last two years will mean travelling for business is regarded as more of a perk than before. Maybe you’ll only travel half as much, but chances are that because of that, you’ll enjoy it a whole lot more, in-flight Zoom calls or not.