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German companies expect increase of business travel – focus on customer needs and networking

Neu-Isenburg, July 12, 2023

Virtual communication tools and concepts such as mobile working are now firmly established in German companies. Nevertheless, corporate leaders still attribute great importance to face-to-face meetings and the business trips that come with this. This is confirmed by a survey of around 110 top German managers conducted by corporate payment expert AirPlus International.

Business travel remains of vital importance for companies, even in times of virtual meetings and mobile working, a survey conducted by AirPlus shows. The overwhelming majority of top German managers surveyed (97 percent) see disadvantages in replacing business trips with video conferences – first and foremost, due to the lack of face-to-face meetings and networking opportunities.

The forecast for the development of business trips in their own companies is correspondingly positive: Just under one in two respondents (47 percent) expect trips to increase or even increase significantly over the next twelve months. 29 percent expect no change, and only one in four anticipates a decline. Top managers also see the combination of business and private trips - known as "bleisure" or "workation" – rising: 46 percent expect a (significant) increase in such trips.

Occasions for personal meetings: networking gains in importance

Respondents were also asked to indicate which business purposes they believe require face-to-face meetings. Here, as last year, they ranked building trust and relationships first. However, the ranking also shows that priorities have changed after another year of experience with virtual conferences: Networking and socializing have gained in relative importance, jumping to 2nd place (2022: 9th); analogously, training and education now rank 4th (2022: 11th). Meetings with emotional messages (such as goal review discussions), on the other hand, slipped from 3rd to 12th place. Here, only one in five respondents stated that a personal meeting was necessary for this.

The influence of customer preference is increasing

When it comes to the factors that will have a significant influence on travel behavior in the future, greater importance is attributed here above all to customer preference as well as the social acceptance of travel. In both cases, 55 percent of respondents expect the influence to increase or increase significantly in the future. Directly behind in the ranking with a positive rating of 54 percent is the safety of the traveler. Travel costs, on the other hand, play a rather minor role in relation to other factors (rank 9, 44 percent).

Top managers expect more air travel

Preferences for means of transport are also likely to shift over the next twelve months. 54 percent of respondents said that their colleagues' air travel would increase or increase significantly, while 52 percent expected this to be the case for train journeys and travel by car. The lowest level of agreement is for rental cars (49 percent).

Cost optimization: numerous measures already implemented

In their efforts to reduce business travel costs, companies appear to have been very active in recent years: The proportions of measures already implemented have consistently improved compared to 2019. Particularly popular among these was the introduction of more cost-effective travel options, such as rides using services like Uber. Whereas just under one in three companies (31 percent) had implemented this measure in 2019, this is now the case for more than half (55 percent).

"Face-to-face meetings remain of elementary importance to business leaders, even if business travel is now more examined," comments Oliver Wagner, CEO of AirPlus International. "Especially when it comes to networking, people have realized how crucial physical meetings are. Companies are increasingly focusing on the wishes of their customers, but also on acceptance in society. Last but not least, we see that travel managers have made good use of the low-travel period during the pandemic to optimally prepare their companies for the comeback of business travel, especially in terms of sustainability and duty of care."

AirPlus surveyed a total of 107 top managers in Germany, including CEOs, CFOs and heads of sales.

About AirPlus International:

AirPlus International is a leading international provider of corporate payment solutions. 53,000 corporate customers rely on AirPlus for the payment and evaluation of their business trips and other purchasing services. The products and services are marketed worldwide under the AirPlus International brand. AirPlus is an issuer of the UATP and Mastercard card schemes. The AirPlus Company Account is the most successful billing account within the UATP. For more information, visit

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