BA has launched "Face-to-Face", a new campaign that features a contest awarding 1,000 travellers an opportunity to fly overseas from New York, LA or Chicago this fall to deepen relationships, forge contracts and generate revenue. In parallel BA commissioned research by Harvard Business Review to gauge the importance of business travel. The results? About 87% of 2,200 respondents believe face-to-face communication is essential for sealing the deal.
BA executive vice president for the America's Simon Talling-Smith says companies for the time being are taking the short-term view, trading off in-person communication to cut expenses. But in the long run he says the individuals running those businesses are all too aware that if their employees are not meeting clients in-person, their competitors are likely courting those same clients face-to-face.
Chairman and chief executive of American parent AMR Gerard Arpey recently made similar comments during the company's second quarter earnings call. He says at some point companies realize "Well, your folks weren't out there goofing off, they were actually out there traveling to generate business for our company."
One thing all carriers need to brace for once premium travel does start its revival is an erosion of pricing leverage they had during the boom times. Talling-Smith believes loads should return with a strong showing, but yields won't show the same strength.