A recent global survey may point the way for employers to address talent retention, travel safety and career progression concerns.

Respondents to an Asia Pacific survey carried out about business travel have indicated their enthusiasm to resume work trips. Some 95% hoped to restart their in-person meetings soon; including 63% who were “very willing” to do so.

The survey commissioned by SAP Concur took place between 15 April and 10 May 2021, across 3,850 business travelers in 25 markets, including 1,050 respondents from Australia and New Zealand; Singapore and Malaysia; China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, India, Korea for the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region.

Findings from the APAC business travelers include:

  1. 81% respondents in APAC vs 80% globallywereworried that the inability to increase business travel will affect them personally.
  2. 51% of APAC respondents (compared to 45% globally) worried about the difficulty in developing and maintaining business connections. Some 39% in APAC (vs 33% globally) fretted about not advancing in their career, and 39% (vs 38% globally) were concerned about making less money.
  3. APAC respondents fretted that if their organization did not increase business travel in the year, it will be harder to sign new deals (40%), build new relationships (39%) and renew contracts with existing clients (39%). Some 9% were afraid their business will shut down, and 14% worried that they will lose their jobs. For very frequent travelers, this latter figure was 22%.
  4. 54% of APAC business travelers surveyed indicated they would make career changes if their company did not provide the necessary policies or measures to protect their health and safety.
  5. About 37% of the respondents indicated that they would ask to limit travel if their firm did not implement policies or measures to help protect their health and safety, while 16% indicated they would go as far as looking for a different position. 
  6. 74% of APAC respondents (vs 64% globally) indicated that flexibility was the most pressing need for business travel, ahead of vaccination-related demands. This included everything from planning, to completing their trips. Some 49% of respondents cited a preference to choose their preferred accommodation, compared to 43% preferring to choose the mode of travel.
  7. 93% of all APAC business travel respondents cited that they expected changes to their travel routine, including more frequently staying in larger hotels (41%), prioritizing domestic trips (39%),and using a personal vehicle instead of public transportation (37%).

According to the firm’s Vice President and Head of Strategy for APAC, Dr Carl Jones: “Employees are ready to return to business travel, but on their own term. The actions that businesses take in the next 12 months to protect traveler safety and health could make or break their ability to acquire and retain valuable employees amid a competitive market for talent.”

Firms can support business travelers by updating travel policies to provide more flexibility in flight and accommodation selection, and offering better protecting of traveling employees’ health and safety, Jones said.