Nearly two-thirds of APAC respondents surveyed are raring to go for professional and personal reasons, but they also want flexibility from employers on how their trips will be conducted
New research commissioned by the SAP Concur organisation highlights enthusiasm among Singapore business travellers to resume their work trips. Respondents to the survey carried out in Singapore believed that the current travel hiatus is hurting their careers − by impeding their business goals − and personal lives.
The survey was also carried out in other Asia Pacific (APAC) markets − Malaysia, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand. One hundred respondents were from Singapore, while a total of 950 came from the other markets.
While the Singapore respondents hope to restart their in-person meetings soon – all of them were “willing” to travel in the next 12 months, including 63% who were “very willing” to do so – they also wanted greater control over how they will travel, so that their safety and health can be better safeguarded amid the pandemic.
“Covid-19 has upended business travel in the the past year and a half. Yet, it has also reaffirmed business travel’s importance in forging business and personal connections, and enabling career advancement,” said Dr Carl Jones, Vice President and Head of Strategy for SAP Concur Asia Pacific.
“While uncertainty continues to linger around travel curbs, firms can support business travellers by updating travel policies to provide more flexibility in flight and accomodation selection, better protecting employees’ health and safety. Then as vaccinations progress and travel bubbles form in the coming months, they will be better positioned to enable safe travel, facilitating business growth and talent retention.”
Notable findings from this study of business travellers include:
1. Travellers believe their career success depends on a return to business travel
Like their APAC counterparts, four in five Singapore respondents (83% in Singapore vs. 81% in APAC) worry that the inability to increase business travel will affect them personally. These concerns include:
- Making less money (31% in Singapore compared to 39% in APAC)
- The difficulty in developing and maintaining business connections (57% vs. 51% in APAC)
- Not advancing in their career (32% vs. 39% in APAC)
On the business front, Singapore respondents fret that if their organisation does not increase business travel in the year, it will be harder to sign new deals (51% vs. 40% in APAC) and renew contracts with existing clients (44% vs. 39% in APAC).
In fact, 19% are afraid their business will shut down, and 22% worry that they will lose their jobs. These grave concerns reveal respondents’ perceptions that business travel is a vital vehicle to strengthen business relationships for career success, and experience new places to broaden personal horizons.
2. Changing traveller expectations forcing organisations to rethink their travel policies
Covid-19 has also altered power dynamics in the workplace. Business travellers will consider their options if employers do not match their expectations.
- More than half of Singapore business travellers (59% vs. 54% in APAC) will make career changes if their company does not provide the necessary policies or measures to protect their health and safety.
- About 41% Singapore business travellers say they will ask to limit travel if their firm does not implement policies or measures to help protect their health and safety (compared to 37% in APAC), while 14% of Singapore business travellers (vs. 16% in APAC) will go as far as looking for a different position.
3. Flexibility helps employees feel safe
Flexibility is now the most pressing need for Singapore business travelers, ahead of their vaccination-related demands.
- This includes everything from planning through the completion of their trips. For instance, respondents cited a preference to choose their preferred accommodation (60% vs. 49% in APAC) and mode of travel (44% vs. 43% in APAC).
- Once they are on the road, almost all Singapore business travellers (91% vs. 93% in APAC) expect changes to their travel routine, including using a personal vehicle instead of public transportation (30% vs. 37% in APAC), more frequently staying in larger hotels (52% vs. 41% in APAC) and prioritising domestic trips (39%, same as APAC).
“Employees are ready to return to business travel, but on their own terms,” said Dr Jones. “The actions that businesses take in the next 12 months to protect traveller safety and health could make or break their ability to acquire and retain valuable employees amid a competitive market for talent.”
For other findings, download the full whitepaper here.