The top business travel trends for 2021

Earlier this week, our industry partner American Express Global Business Travel (GBT) hosted a webinar on the travel trends for the year ahead for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. They revealed 7 upcoming trends: air corridors, new rules for sourcing hotel programs, technology and more personalised ground travel options, sustainability, traveller and employee wellbeing, strengthening travel engagement and updated policies for the new travel landscape. Perhaps unsurprisingly as a result of the coronavirus health crisis, digital health wallets and air corridors were voted as the trend most likely to dominate the business travel industry by the attendees of the webinar. Employee well-being, updated policies and sustainability also received major percentages of the vote.

Employee wellbeing is the third of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) (“Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all ages”). Sustainability is not only about capping emissions; it is also about sustaining individual health and wellbeing which can be helped by implementing a supportive company culture. At FGA, employee wellbeing is one of our core values – read our article published on International Woman’s Day on why happier employees are more resilient at work. No longer an optional nice-to-have benefit, a preventative approach to mental and physical health leapt to the forefront of company priorities when the pandemic led to a wave of psychological distress. At FGA, we support and mentor our employees’ career development and actively encourage flexible working. GBT also highlights several ways in which you can help safeguard your travelling employees’ wellbeing.

Covid-19 has caused significant changes to how people travel, how often they travel and where they go. Remote working has become much more common, with virtual communication proving that travel is not completely essential for collaboration and productivity. Face-to-face meetings and events will eventually return in the longer-term but never to the same degree, with face-to-face technology compensating where travel is not considered essential.  With health and safety having become a major concern, businesses will have to update their travel policies to take new risks into account. This may take the shape of tighter travel approval processes and speaking to reservation agents or consultants before booking a trip. We are working on making the travel policies also sustainable.

With less than 10 years left to meet the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement emissions targets, the pandemic has offered the opportunity for many companies to review their business travel policies by making sustainability a priority.  Limiting greenhouse gas emissions from business travel is important to reducing a company’s overall carbon footprint, as well as integrating offsetting and sustainable aviation fuel. Get in touch with sarah@flygreenalliance.org to discuss how our FGA Travel Smart™ can help your company meet its carbon neutral commitments.

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