Accor has published a new report stemming from a recent panel of European business leaders from ten industries, in which it concludes that “business trips will be fewer but more purposeful”.

The Business of Travel report said that while there was “still a compelling need for in-person meetings”… “post-pandemic business travel must be ‘business-critical’ to justify the financial and carbon cost”.

Accor said research showed that “workers expect to make 25 per cent more revenue through face-to-face meetings than virtual ones”, as well as benefitting from “a range of wellbeing advantages including much-missed social interaction with colleagues and associates”.

But the panel found that business travel priorities “have undergone a major shift”, with a focus on sustainability and wellbeing “in a world where financial budgets are being replaced by carbon ones”.

The panel said that carbon costs needed to be justified with any business trip, with one delegate stating that “Offsetting is no longer enough, and our hotel partners need to prove they are actively reducing our footprint”.

The ability to run meetings virtually or with hybrid technology was also highlighted by panel members – something which many major hotel groups are now able to offer.

Meetings and events reinvented for a new era

The panel also discussed the emergence of “mindful travel”, with business travellers aiming “to make travel count professionally, economically, sustainably and personally”.

Examples of this included comparing hotel and transport options using carbon calculators to make travellers and bookers more conscious of the carbon cost of their trips; promoting longer stays; and an insistence on high sustainability standards for hotels.

Sophie Hulgard, senior vice president sales Northern Europe, Accor, said that “Twenty per cent of business meetings may have gone forever, to be replaced by virtual equivalents or the realisation that they simply weren’t necessary in the first place”.

“Instead we are seeing the emergence of a much more purposeful business travel sector where companies want to maximise the value of each trip to reconnect teams, grow culture, strategise, close deals, and strengthen bonds with employees.

“Business travel enables real connections and has incredible power and value, not just in financial terms but – in the new post-pandemic mindset – increased employee satisfaction and wellbeing and therefore loyalty to employers.

“But the future of business travel must banish inconsequential trips and replace them with business-critical travel that is sustainably planned and delivers for the employee, the employer and the planet.”