When business travel resumes, it will do so “in full force,” according to a report from CBRE, the world’s largest commercial real estate services firm. The study, entitled The Future for the Lodging Industry: When Will Convention and Group Demand Come Back?, found that travel which fulfills the desire for face-to-face communication and enables other social factors to interact with people “will drive a strong recovery for business travel during the post-COVID-19 period.”
Although many professions are able to maintain productivity using remote working models with a heavy reliance on telecommunication, the economic evidence for in-person interaction will drive post-COVID group hotel demand, according to the research. For every $1 invested in business travel, it said, firms realized $12.50 in incremental revenue.
Separate research from Oxford Economics cited in the report found that elimination of business travel reduces profits by 17 percent in the first year. The finding supports findings of another study by Harvard University that business travel moves knowhow – the tacit knowledge accumulated and transferred from brain to brain through a long process of imitation, repetition and feedback.
As a result, business travel activity is directly correlated to economic growth. When business travel stops, the Harvard research predicted, global GDP is likely to drop.
The CBRE Hotels study concurred with what many industry experts have been saying since the start of the pandemic: A more remote workforce will demand more opportunities to connect in-person with colleagues, clients and others in their network. Conferences and conventions are therefore ripe to benefit from the increased demand.
Business travel may look different, the study said, and may potentially include additional family members such as working spouses or school-age children completing virtual learning during the traditional workday.