Reactivating business travel
A couple of weeks ago I returned from a trip to Mexico, where I was fortunate enough to enjoy some very intense days, meeting great people and professionals, and presenting the Hispano-Suiza Carmen at the Pastejé Automotive Invitational. Throughout my stay I was accompanied by the best team of people dedicated to Hispano Suiza in an impeccable way. It was a perfect trip, really, because despite the pandemic and all the associated restrictions, it enabled me to do something that COVID had been keeping us from for a long time – none other than face-to-face contact. And by this I mean in real life, not the “head and shoulders to head and shoulders” contact that we’ve been having for many months via Zoom.
In this sense, I felt a certain nostalgia, at the same time as uneasiness and contradiction, to be able to make a more or less normalized trip, having gone through what has happened and knowing how bad the situation is in the tourism, incentive travel or airline sectors. Estimates made by experts on the impact of the coronavirus indicate that for the Spanish tourism sector alone the direct and indirect losses of activity during this 2020 could be up to 90 billion euros. Next to nothing!
A recovery at this time may be an uphill battle, but I’m confident that this sector will know how to adapt and overcome it, as it has already demonstrated in previous crises. And in this context I believe that business travel will play an important role in this recovery. I believe they have a future. Maybe not exactly as they were before, but companies need contact with people on the ground, because that also ends up yielding benefits in the form of both internationalization and increased exports. “On average, every euro invested in business travel generates 10 euros in exports” according to Gebta, the benchmark business organization for business travel in Spain. According to their latest survey, 63% of professionals consider that all the trips they make are necessary to achieve their business goals and a large majority (82%) believe that face-to-face meetings are more effective than virtual encounters.
On this last point I could not agree more, because while it is true that such a long period of confinement has proved to us that remote work is possible and has its advantages, business travel adds a very important human dimension that is not going to disappear; we need contact, direct exchange, shared experience, moments of waiting, ….. And everything that is not seen or felt in a video call, a chat or an email, whether with customers, employees or suppliers. We will have to rethink our priorities, take a close look at travel policies, calculate and moderate the environmental impact… of course. But business travel is going to take off again.
Sergio Martínez Campos
CEO, Hispano Suiza