Global business leaders have revealed the true impact of travel on company success in a new survey conducted by business aviation specialist and WSJ Intelligence.

The Future of Business Travel report, which asked more than 200 high-level company executives in the US, EMEA and APAC about the essential role and value of travel in their professional lives, found 97 per cent of businesses experienced negative impact directly related to those travel restrictions imposed during the pandemic.

Nearly one-quarter (24 per cent) indicated massive or substantial disruptions across all eight areas measured, and 87 per cent cited massive or substantial disruption in at least one area. More than a third (37 per cent) said international business development and product launches took a hit due to a lack of in-person presence.

As restrictions ease, built-up anticipation for business travel is clear, with 81 per cent saying business travel will be more important than ever to driving success. Among respondents who take eight or more private flights a year, 60 per cent plan to significantly increase in-person meetings.

VistaJet has witnessed a 49 per cent in corporate interest around the world since the start of the pandemic, indicating that flying private continues to be a key support for business travel.

The main benefits of taking private flights for business travel, as reported by those surveyed and in order of priority, were flexibility, efficiency, safety and privacy. The two top priorities for trips were visiting partners and vendors and going to industry events, each at 34 per cent. Managing current relationships and building new ones were also key travel drivers.

The return to business travel largely hangs on regulations — 46 per cent of respondents were waiting for destinations to reopen; 42 per cent wanted updated COVID-19 data and rules for destinations; 36 per cent were seeking support in case COVID-19 regulations change during a trip; and the same number were awaiting relaxation of their own company’s travel policies.

Ian Moore, Chief Commercial Officer, VistaJet said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has upended the world, including travel. It also showed that some business travel is truly essential and having to forgo in-person trips came at a real cost to companies. Additionally, it is hard to read a room when everyone is in individual windows on screen — misunderstandings can occur, especially across cultures, and these in turn can become costly mistakes.”

To support businesses around the world connect and restart the economy in the midst of heightened market insecurity, VistaJet recently launched a new corporate membership promising “speed and maximum flexibility with payment in arrears, unlimited flying hours, guaranteed availability of additional aircraft, and streamlined travel logistics”.