Business travel has been among the U.S. industries hardest hit by the pandemic, but there have been incredible improvements just in the past two months, according to Virginia Tech travel expert Nancy McGehee.

“We are happy to see a consistent and steep increase across all forms of travel in the past two months. As business travel recovers, companies are realizing the need to balance in-person travel with online and virtual forms of meetings,” said McGehee. “While the online format has its appeal for cost-efficiency, folks are realizing that sometimes much gets lost in translation.”

McGehee believes in the value of what happens before and after in-person meetings.

“In-person consensus building, smaller break-out sessions, clarifications that lead to closing deals, and the opportunity to focus solely on the issue at hand and not be distracted by  email, texts, colleagues, and family if you are working from home.”

She points to September and beyond for a further uptick in business travel.

“We are seeing our industry partners planning and advertising meetings and conferences starting in the fall. The rest of the corporate world is following suit shortly thereafter. While the COVID vaccine is clearing the way for safe travel, it will take time for companies’ budgets to strengthen to the point that they can travel.”

One of the most encouraging signs, said McGehee, is the impact on hiring and salaries for those entering the hospitality business.

“I am getting daily requests for our students for internships. Our grads are turning down positions and accepting offers much higher than in previous years. Even last years’ graduates had a whopping 93 percent placement rate.”

Nancy Gard McGehee is professor and former department head of the Howard Feiertag Hospitality and Tourism Management program in the Pamplin College of Business at Virginia Tech. Her research focus is rural tourism development at both the domestic and international levels.  

Read Nancy McGehee’s bio

To schedule an interview with Nancy McGehee, contact Bill Foy by email, or by phone at 540-998-0288.  

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