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business travel

Is business travel as we know it dead? 

The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted countless industries across the globe over the past year and a half. One industry that has faced tremendous change is the travel industry, which came to a screeching halt in 2020 as countries closed their borders to prevent the spread of the virus. Now, more than a year on, we are still seeing the pandemic’s effects on travel. While widespread vaccinations and the CDC’s updated guidelines regarding mask usage and travel for vaccinated individuals have encouraged some to take leisure trips this summer, the business travel industry is still a long way from recovery.  

Pre-pandemic, business travel accounted for $300 billion of the airline industry’s $800 billion revenues according to a Fortune article. At the start of 2021, the International Airline Transport Association (IATA) predicted that the industry would see positive recovery by the end of the year. Now, the IATA predicts business travel will not fully recover until 2024 to 2025

So what does this mean for the age of business travel? 

Has Zoom ended business travel as we know it? 

It’s no secret that companies are now far more hesitant to authorize business trips, considering the risks as infections continue to crop up and new variant strains spread globally. Over the past year, we all have had to adapt, including companies, who have adopted the use of video conferencing technology to facilitate communication between employees and hold meetings worldwide without the need to travel. In many ways, Zoom has transformed the way we do business. 

Photo by Surface on Unsplash

Business travel is also incredibly expensive. A Forbes article reported that one U.K. bank saved over $300 million in travel expenses over the past year. Many short trips, especially in Europe, between company offices, are now being replaced by train travel, while unnecessary trips are being replaced by virtual meetings. Until travel regulations fully lift and vaccination numbers rise, it does not make sense to take a trip halfway across the world for a company lunch or business meeting. 

You might be interested: What to know about the new COVID-19 Delta-variant infecting young and partially vaccinated people 

Resuming corporate travel protocols

Still, some road warriors express their dissatisfaction with Zoom meetings and long to resume standard business travel. 

In an article with NBC News, road warrior Stewart Mann said, “I went from flying probably 175 to 200 flights in a normal year to two flights last year after the pandemic hit. I’m a people person and I was depressed.”

For others, such as Fred Grubbe, president of the National Precast Concrete Association, Zoom just doesn’t cut it for his job. He said his workers prefer seeing the industrial mixers and heavy equipment they need to purchase in person. “With the restrictions of Zoom, you can’t see, touch or test the merchandise. This was huge,” he said to NBC News. “It’s very important because a lot of these relationships are personal. These are vendors our members have been working with for years,” he said.

Photo by Ross Parmly on Unsplash

Resuming business travel protocols post-Covid19 will be a long road and travel may look different moving forward. In the U.K., companies are looking to send employees on longer, less frequent trips. “Because of the restrictions, it makes more sense to group two trips into one and stay a bit longer and then hop between cities instead of several trips,” Avi Meir, CEO and co-founder of TravelPerk told Forbes

Other industry leaders report hearing talks of a new category of business travel emerging: ‘return to base’ meetings for digital nomads who have changed locations either temporarily or permanently during the pandemic, working remotely far from the company’s home office. These meetings would require digital nomads to travel back to the company’s home base for routine face-to-face meetings. This new category of business travel may help to revitalize the airline and travel industry as business travel slowly begins to resume post-pandemic.

covid-19 restrictions, mask rule

Is the end in sight? Mask rule lifts for the fully-vaccinated and COVID-19 restrictions ease 

CDC announces lift on mask rules for vaccinated individuals and states being easing COVID-19 restrictions. 

Is the end in sight? 

In the past week, new developments regarding COVID-19 restrictions have had many thinking the end might be in sight. Will we really be back to “normal” this summer? 

Following Thursday’s announcement from the CDC which deemed that fully vaccinated people are no longer required to wear a mask indoors or outdoors, retailers across the country were quick to update their policies as the mask rule lifts. Companies such as Walmart, Target, Costco, and Starbucks now allow fully vaccinated customers to go mask-free. 

While these new guidelines bring us one step closer to the end of this pandemic, don’t go getting rid of your masks just yet. As per the guidelines, masks may still be required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance and are still required for all forms of transportation. 

Easing COVID-19 restrictions in NJ 

In addition to the easing mask rule, many states are now in the process of phasing out other COVID-19 restrictions. In New Jersey, Governor Phil Murphy has signed Executive Order No. 239 which will implement the second phase of COVID-19 restriction easing. 

The easing includes the complete removal of the outdoor gathering limit; an increased indoor gathering limit; the complete removal of all percentage-based capacity limits for indoor businesses, outdoor businesses, and houses of worship; and an increased indoor large venue capacity. Additionally, the prohibition on indoor interstate youth sports competitions is being lifted.

These changes are set to take effect on Wednesday, May 19th. Additional details can be viewed at nj.gov

What can travelers expect?

As summer is on the horizon, more people are hoping to travel this year. With the newest guidelines, travel will certainly be possible for fully-vaccinated individuals as COVID-19 restrictions continue to lift. 

The updated CDC guidelines for travelers now states that fully vaccinated domestic travelers need not get tested or self-quarantine before traveling. For fully vaccinated international travelers, COVID-19 testing is not necessary before leaving the U.S. unless required by the destination. Fully vaccinated travelers also do not need to self-quarantine in the United States following international travel, though international travelers arriving in the U.S. are still recommended to get a COVID-19 test 3-5 days after travel regardless of vaccination status. 

However, you should still pack a mask! Because, while the CDC guidelines have lifted the mask rule for fully vaccinated individuals in many outdoor and indoor settings, masks are still required at all hubs of transportation including airports, buses, and train stations and may still be required depending on individuals local and state laws and private businesses. 

Parks and resorts like Disney and Universal are easing their mask restrictions for guests. Disney has announced that masks in outdoor areas will be optional, a relief for many travelers who struggle in the sweltering Florida heat while wearing a mask. Still, masks will be required for all indoor areas at the park, including theaters, attractions, and transportation. 

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It is expected that many other vacation resorts, hotels, and tourist attractions will be updating their policies and guidelines in the coming weeks, so travelers should keep an eye out for updates as they prepare for their summer getaways!