Resuming Business Travel Remains Point of Concern for Many Malaysians


While business travel continues to play an irreplaceable role for certain work needs, employees are placing greater emphasis on health and safety post-Movement Control Order (MCO) with a great majority reluctant to make business trips.

New findings from research commissioned by the SAP Concur organisation in May and June 2020 show that some 93 percent of employees feel concerned about resuming travel.

They are especially worried about getting sick themselves (73%) or infecting their families (67%).

Additionally, the trip itself is likely to be anxiety-inducing: 56 percent are concerned about being on a plane, 49 percent about using public transportation, and 42 percent about using rideshare/taxis.

Other findings as follows:

  • Employees understand the need to resume in-person meetings

Forty-four percent of respondents “feel encouraged” about being allowed to travel again. Although 61 percent also say they are worried about resuming travel, over a quarter (28%) “feel excited” as well.

This eagerness to return to the road is likely because most respondents (77%) anticipate a reduced number of deals/contracts signed without face-to-face meetings. Furthermore, 51 percent of respondents expect declines in new business due to a lack of in-person meetings.

  • COVID-19 has supercharged health and safety concerns, creating added stress

Nearly half of respondents (45%) now say they experience the most stress during the trip, rather than before (23%) or after the trip (31%). With the pandemic dominating news headlines, more than half say their health and safety is their top priority while travelling for business (55%). This is more than five times the number of respondents who regard business needs (10%) as a top priority.

  • Organisations in Malaysia must prepare to meet emerging traveller expectations

Almost all (99%) respondents consider certain company measures critical for safely returning to the road. These include mandatory personal health screenings for travelling employees (71%), limiting travel for only most critical trips (54%), and easier access to personal protective equipment (46%).

All Malaysian respondents also agreed that company trainings would be beneficial, especially on how to better protect health and safety while travelling (82%) and how to maintain healthy habits while travelling (68%).

Organisations should take heed of employee expectations – 76 percent of Malaysian business travellers say they would ask to limit travel if their company does not implement appropriate measures.

“In this new normal, emerging expectations around health and safety require the travel industry to adapt, innovate and transform,” said SAP Concur managing director (Southeast Asia) Laura Houldsworth.

“Organisations should update their travel policies and create a mechanism to clearly define essential travel – not just from the corporate standpoint but also taking into account government regulations and employees’ appetite for travel.”

“We believe that only with such support can employees confidently resume travel, continue to deliver on work commitments and service customers as they did before COVID-19.”

Some 150 Malaysian respondents took part in the survey.

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