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In a post-pandemic world, will working from home be a boon for business travel?

March 14, 2022
5 min read
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After two years of remote work and return-to-office dates pushed back several times due to COVID-19 surges and variants, many companies are finally getting ready to return to the office this month. However, what that return to work looks like will likely be very different than office life before the pandemic, and since the working-from-home culture took root.

Gone from many companies is the expectation of employees sitting in an office full time. American Express is one company that says hybrid will lead the way, with 40% of its staff working from home in some capacity. Also, many tech companies are making the jump to hybrid and working from home -- with one Meta employee telling us she never expects to return to a regular desk in the office again.

Without traditional office culture and business spaces, what does this mean for business travel? Is it the end of work trips and conferences as we know them?

Don't write off business travel yet. In fact, you may be surprised to hear that many in the industry think the continued trend of working from home could actually be a boost for hotel and travel bottom lines.

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The future of business travel

As Elie Maalouf, CEO of the Americas region for IHG Hotels & Resorts, put it: “There are people who can’t deliver their work on Zoom.”

According to the American Hotel & Lodging Association, although big conferences may not be coming back, the trend toward staying in a destination for an extended period beyond a face-to-face meeting is something that will continue to expand throughout 2022.

Related: The ultimate guide to small-business travel

Working from home, on the road

Sean Hennessey, assistant professor at the New York University School of Professional Studies Jonathan M. Tisch Center of Hospitality, said that while “it’s a little early to call it a trend, we’re starting to see people, especially in tech where remote work is part of the job, coming in to headquarters and booking [hotel] rooms, creating demand.”

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Hennessey added that, as the pandemic fades from view, there will be a more natural inclination to want to see people and to catch up on in-person, day-to-day conversations. Additionally, this incremental demand to meet in person will benefit the hotel community and the supporting travel infrastructure -- including rail and air travel and restaurants.

“The hotel markets in a number of cities have rebounded and started to bounce back even though the office occupancy is nowhere where it was, pre-pandemic,” Hennessey stated.

And even though much of that is credited to leisure travelers, there’s an “undercurrent of periodic corporate business and employees coming in monthly and so forth that’s helping to bolster the recovery of the hotel sector,” he says.

Related: Business travel is surging back sooner than expected, but there’s still some bad news for airlines

'Bleisure' travel is here to stay

Chip Rogers, president and CEO of the American Hotel and Lodging Association, said "bleisure" travel -- in which travelers piggyback leisure and business trips -- has been called a “pandemic silver lining.”

“Some travel experts think that fly-to-the-meeting and fly-back-from-the-meeting day trips will become a thing of the past and that multiday bleisure trips will ultimately become ‘the new business trip,'” he explained.

While this kind of extended travel isn’t new, it was more common among younger travelers before the pandemic, said Rogers. Today, it's more mainstream among business travelers across demographic groups, according to AHLA data. “In fact, one 2021 study of global business travelers found 89% wanted to add a private holiday to their business trips in the next 12 months,” he shared.

This shift is possible, he explained, because companies have become more accepting of employees working on the road and more tolerant of this kind of business travel.

Related: 5 tips to turn business travel into family vacations

The move to better, longer trips

“We have entered a new business travel frontier,” said Jon Makhmaltchi of J.Mak Hospitality, a sales and marketing consultancy for global travel brands.

According to Makhmaltchi, both leisure travelers and business travelers are spending more, staying in nicer hotels and looking for more residential-style experiences from their hotels.

Business travel “obviously was drastically reduced during the pandemic but travel is back, and corporate travel is back, but altered. We’re finding business travelers taking fewer, better business travel trips, which is also a trend we’ve been seeing in leisure travel,” he added.

Makhmaltchi explained that business travelers who are hitting the road “want comfortable and cool lounges for meetings or to get work done, and now more of their meetings are scattered throughout cities and suburban areas with many people still working from home. We’ve seen that business travelers are willing to stay outside of traditional business districts, instead preferring a destination that offers better, hipper neighborhood shopping, dining, outdoor activities or a bit of fun for them.”

He added: "We have all gotten used to work happening outside office settings so the bar has raised on what those settings are when we’re on the road."

Featured image by Riley Arthur
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
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  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023
Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

    75,000 bonus miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023