Seven out of 10 businesses cite virtual meetings as the main reason for limiting business travel, according to a report published this week by the BTA and the Confederation of British Industry (CBI Economics).
The report, based on a survey of 475 business leaders across all sectors of the UK economy, found 60% cited concerns around cost and 29% said a growing concern for the environment.
BTA CEO Clive Wratten said: “We cannot let the hybrid legacy of remote meetings check economic growth that has for generations been stimulated by face-to-face meetings. It is crucial that we now focus our efforts on promoting and protecting public transport networks to sustainably keep Britain moving.
“Business leaders need to stop and think which is more likely to help their organisations grow and prosper – a distant and constrained Teams or Zoom call that is hard to read or the ability to meet in person.”
The study highlights that in-person contact promotes a higher level of trust and stronger working relationships, with half of businesses highlighting face-face contact as the number one success factor in winning new business.
The study shows the potential for a strong return for business travel post-pandemic with seven out of 10 businesses recognising that travel plays a vital role in the day-to-day running of an enterprise.
Nearly seven out of 10 using business travel believe it is vital in helping organisations meet their business objectives.
Wratten added: “Our report unequivocally shows that business travel is so much more than suited executives turning left on a plane. It impacts the entire business network across the UK and worldwide.”
Meetings with existing clients, prospects, and attending exhibitions and shows, are the top reasons for travel.
The report claims the total impact of the business travel sector to the UK economy in 2022 was £27.5 billion in GVA, taking into account the supply chain, indirect contributions and employee spend. This equates to around 1.3% of the UK total and accounts for more than 283,500 full-time equivalent jobs.
It found 84% of business travellers used private cars as a means of transport for domestic business travel, followed by long-distance/inter-city trains at 59%. Air travel was used by 95% of international business travellers.
While the number of journeys remains below 2019 levels, 95% of firms recognise that a return to business travel is important.
Eight out of 10 state a preference for face-to-face meetings that give immediate feedback, the ability to read a room, develop deeper relationships and often lead to swifter transactions.