In the latest episode of the Business Travel News Europe podcast, our CEO James Parkhouse joined Andy Hoskins, Editor-in-Chief of BTN Europe, to discuss the challenging complexities of corporate travel during the pandemic, how Capita Travel and Events has navigated the challenges and what will change for business travel following the planned opening up of the wider economy.
Speaking about the impacts of a change to the office and travel landscape, James said: “We know that the future of the office is up for some debate. Every day in the newspapers there’s a new article about the office but they move, and they change. Three of four months into the pandemic there was a sense that ‘we’re all here [home working], we’ll never go back to the office again’. As it’s gone on for a year or so, there’s been a shift, with more and more people saying we would really like to go back but not in the same way as before.”
The shift to scaled-up remote working - and as organsiations reassess their office footprints - poses some questions of what travel volumes will look like post-pandemic. James observes that: “We can all get quite obsessed with getting back to 2019 volumes – how do we know they were right? As a business we focussed for many years on helping our customers to reduce their spend because that what we they often want.
“I believe there’s an important balance – the cost savings have come straight away. So, organsiations have seen a reduction in travel, meetings and events spend on their bottom line and particularly Finance Directors are quite happy about that. They’ve saved that money and are thinking ‘how do we bake in that saving’ – particularly when it aligns to a strong sustainability message.
"And that’s a lead indicator. But what you aren’t seeing is the impact on revenue and future growth - because that’s a lag indicator that’s going to take time to come through. That’s the generation of new projects, new opportunities, new ways of working. That’s where we’re starting to see organsiations want to get back to a hybrid and recognise and make sure the pendulum doesn’t swing too far because organisations need to recognise some element of necessary travel generates economic growth for organisation.
“It’s finding that sweet spot. I’m not one that’s thinking the target needs to be at 2019 – it never was. If an organisation was spending £10m with us – how can we help you get more for less. How can you spend £7-8m but know you’re meeting your business goals?
“At the moment we don’t know what the return will look like, but I think we have to be ready and to help organsiations move their people around effectively. That’s what we’ve done to date – it might just look a little different after the pandemic.”
The podcast was filled with interesting topics and insightful discussion. To hear the full conversation, listen here: New podcast: In conversation with... James Parkhouse | Business Travel News Europe