Everybody is now aware that the coronavirus has virtually shut down the global economy and is having a major negative impact on our industry. While nobody knows when this will end, the depth of this situation is such that bouncing back to what we had before is unlikely to occur. There might be permanent changes in the ways we do business.

This is the first in a series of pieces that will examine potential changes in our industry and their impacts on industry participants. Our first topic is the demand for travel.

The coronavirus crisis has most of the non-healthcare and essential services workers conducting business from home, utilizing the internet and technology to continue business operations remotely. As companies and employees become more familiar and more comfortable with this technology, they will discover that some tasks previously handled through travel can be accomplished without getting on an airplane. Saving time and money will be important to companies post-recession, and new demand limits on travel are likely.

Many industry conventions and events that have been canceled may face lower turnout, as some participants will fear crowded spaces, particularly if the disease is not completely eradicated. I can’t imagine a lot of folks attending seminars on cruise ships soon, given the difficulties a confined environment creates.

The result could be a permanent decline in business travel. The size of that decline would have major implications for the entire travel industry, as business travelers purchase the highest priced airfares and make up a disproportionate share of airline revenues.

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