If Thomas Jefferson had known what an airplane was, the Declaration of Independence’s most important ideas would have included the word ‘travel’.
In the weeks following 9/11, many people claimed they would never get on an airplane again. During the Great Recession in 2008, experts everywhere proclaimed that video conferencing would replace business travel and face-to-face meetings. Those predictions seemed perfectly logical, at that time.
Thus, the reason I write today.
At this time, confusion and fear dominate our personal and professional lives. We desperately look for answers because as leaders of businesses and families, we are expected to have answers and chart a path forward. Despite a lot of effort and research, I find it impossible to understand and make any predictions about the future.
Except for this: Travel will be Back as Strong as Ever
Love is, and always will be, the most powerful force in the world. In order for humans to express love, we must gather and interact. Whether it be a wedding (or a funeral), a birthday, a family get-together, or dinner with friends, we absolutely need, on its most basic level, to travel to express our love for each-other.
Sheltering at home (seven weeks and counting as of today May 1, 2020) reminds us vividly how important time is and how we have no control of it. Because of sheltering in place, a dear friend’s ‘new baby’ will likely be 1-year old before I see him. Meanwhile, all of us have elderly several family members we haven’t visited in months. Time isn’t stopping for them or us; we just get less of it.
Time has stolen the most precious thing from all of us who have lost loved ones recently. People are aching at their core to recapture all this time lost with family, friends and loved ones, and will accept a real level of risk to gather again…soon.
Video conferencing and telephones have been around for a long time, so why has business travel continued to boom? First and foremost, businesses are increasingly serving world markets, and that means you go where your customers are. World travelers take on risk and will be very adept at mitigating those risks as they try and revive revenue. Bet on it.
Even more bedrock and timeless: Businesses prosper when they put their most productive employees in the same room with other creative and productive people. If you want to innovate, collaborate and grow, you need to gather with other like-minded business people. Travel is opportunity.
Not to say tools such as Zoom aren’t here to stay, but let’s be honest, video conferencing as a medium for meetings has finite capacity. The more we use it and rely on it, the more, we see its limitations. Anyone else sick of Netflix?
Finally, I am absolutely certain of one more prediction.
The next time I travel to see my clients, colleagues, friends and family, the hugs are going to be AMAZING.
What’s the first trip you are going to take and who are you going to see? Let me know in the comments below.