SAP Concur Study Reveals Eagerness for APAC Business Travellers to Restart Trips

3 mins read

DigitalCFO Newsroom | 6 September 2021

Business Travel

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 Asia Pacific (APAC) business travellers to  resume their work trips. Respondents to the survey carried out in Singapore, Malaysia,  China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand  believe that the current travel hiatus is hurting their careers − by impeding their business  goals − and personal lives. 

While they hope to restart their in-person meetings soon − 95% are “willing” to travel in  the next 12 months, including 63% who are “very willing” to do so – they also want 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 the study of 1,050 APAC business travellers include:  

Travellers believe their career success depends on a return to business  travel 

Like their global counterparts, four in five APAC respondents (81% in APAC vs.  80% globally) worry that the inability to increase business travel will affect them  personally. These concerns include: 

o The difficulty in developing and maintaining business connections (51% in  APAC compared to 45% globally)

o Not advancing in their career (39% compared to 33% globally) o Making less money (39% compared to 38% globally)

On the business front, APAC respondents fret that if their organisation does 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%).  

In fact, 9% are afraid their business will shut down, and 14% worry that they will  lose their jobs. For those who are very frequent travellers, this latter figure jumps  to 22%. 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. 

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. o More than half of APAC business travellers (54%) will make career  changes if their company does not provide the necessary policies or  measures to protect their health and safety. 

o About 37% say they will ask to limit travel if their firm does not implement  policies or measures to help protect their health and safety, while 16% will go as far as looking for a different position. 

Flexibility helps employees feel safe  

Flexibility is now the most pressing need for APAC business travellers, ahead of  their vaccination-related demands (74% vs. 64%). 

o This includes everything from planning through the completion of their  trips. For instance, respondents cited a preference to choose their preferred accommodation (49%) and mode of travel (43%).  

o Once they are on the road, almost all APAC business travellers (93%)  expect changes to their travel routine, including more frequently staying in  larger hotels (41%), prioritising domestic trips (39%), and using a personal  vehicle instead of public transportation (37%).  

“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