Prediction #3: Business Travel is going to be down 40% long term.

One of the biggest changes over time will be a huge decrease or change in business travel.  During this pandemic, business travel completely stopped.   Employees who used to travel to HQ now met on video.  Sales calls were done using Zoom.  

For the most part, people found the remote calls to be efficient – especially when they previously met in person with the counterparty.

I’ve spoken with a bunch of friends who traveled a ton before the pandemic and they universally say one of the biggest changes they will make is to reduce business travel – which puts a big burden on their family, health, and marriages.

Business travel will still exist in a big way – especially for sales.   Everyone is still going to travel in-person to “close the sale” as you don’t want to be the one competitor who is remote but for existing relationships, expect a substantial proportion of communication to be handled over video chat.   And some frequent travelers will continue to travel – whether because they enjoy it or like to escape from the family. 

But expect a culture change for expensive in-person meetings.  Instead of flying to HQ every month, expect teams to all remotely zoom in 2 out of 3 months and meet in person once a quarter instead.

And customer success/account management will likely happen more frequently over video since employees are finding it to be almost as effective and much less expensive than frequent travel.

Opportunities:

  • There will be new software companies that analyze sales calls using Zoom and AI to figure out how to improve your sales by tracking what you say, the cadence, the reaction of the potential customer to what you say, etc… (Expect a people.ai type product for video interactions.)
  • On-demand delivery/gifts or other ways to replace going out for dinner. If salespeople reduce their number of visits, there will be a need for something else replacing schmoozing and business dinners.  Expect distance-based “schmooze” events. Like a company that sends a customer 3 small bottles of scotch and sets up a joint remote tasting. 
  • If many business calls are remote we will see new tools that build on top of video calls.  Given many sales calls will now be via Zoom, a tool that grabs the relevant snippet of the zoom call and passes it on to other parties would be very useful.  For example, imagine sales reps being able to push a button and share video snippets of customer insights directly with developers.  (Grain.co is doing something like this right now.)

If you currently are working on one of these opportunities or want to work on them, please contact me at charlie at iamcharliegraham dot com

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