By Drew Crawley, Chief Commercial Officer, American Express Global Business Travel
We don’t always recognize the importance of what we have until it’s gone. In a world where moments really matter, one of lockdown’s legacies is that the value of meeting face-to-face has never been so profoundly understood.
In late summer of 2021, the green shoots of an international travel recovery began to emerge. The accommodations and ground transportation categories, driven by small and medium-sized enterprises eager to travel and trade, led the recovery. Later, when governments finally eased restrictions, the pent-up demand for air travel among many of our customers started to release.
Let us be clear: businesses and people want to travel. Of that there is no doubt. However, we will be encumbered by uncertainty for some time to come. Market dynamics that impact the supply and demand curve will make pricing an onerous task. Governments are still prone to implementing new rules, restrictions and protocols at a moment’s notice. And as I write, we’re still waiting for the Omicron variant to dissipate.
In spite of the challenges, I remain fervently optimistic about our sector’s future, because B2B travel partners are designed to manage disruption and simplify complexity. Our collective goal across the industry is to keep travelers moving seamlessly, helping them create new moments that matter. It’s what makes our sector fundamental to economic and social progress around the world.
Moreover, travel and meetings managers will be increasingly visible in 2022. As our newly released “Business Travel in 2022 and Beyond” white paper shows, their responsibilities will be more integrated with other departments as mobility becomes central to the culture of organizations that need to bring distributed teams together. They’re also helping set the agenda for sustainability and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) and will be instrumental in helping organizations understand and adapt to cultural evolution.
Over the last two years, we’ve experienced a world without travel. We’ve endured the toll it has taken on economic growth and the incalculable cost to social progress and human happiness. We cannot afford to go back – and we don’t have to. In 2022 and beyond, the business travel sector should face the future with confidence, armed with the knowledge, tools, and determination to keep powering progress around the world.