“It’s all about building relationships,” he said. “It’s very hard to do that online.”
On the other hand, short business meetings and employee training sessions may continue to be conducted online, which is less expensive than in person, said Grant Caplan, president of Procurigence, a consulting firm in Houston that advises companies on their spending for business travel, meetings and events.
Even as business travel has resumed, hotels, airlines and airports still have inadequate staffing. A survey of hoteliers by the American Hotel and Lodging Association, a trade group, released in October found that 87 percent of respondents were experiencing staffing shortages. Although that was an improvement over May, when 97 percent of respondents said they were short-staffed, the current findings do not bode well for smooth hotel stays.
Disruptions in flying, particularly in the United States and Europe — because of weather delays, inadequate flight crews or air traffic control and security issues at airports — have been notoriously high, particularly earlier this year.
Although “we can’t say that these disruptions have discouraged business travel, they have clearly complicated” the experience for travelers, said Kathy Bedell, senior vice president of the Americas and affiliate program for BCD Travel, a travel management company.
Kellie Kessler, a pharmaceutical clinical researcher in Raleigh, N.C., said the travel disruptions she faced this year were too much. She changed jobs recently to take one that requires her to travel on business 10 percent of the time, compared with 80 percent in her previous position.
“The reason I took a nontravel position is that I can count on one hand the number of on-time flights I had this year,” she said.