The dynamics of corporate travel in China heading into 2024

BCD Travel’s managing director of North Asia, Jonathan Kao, demonstrates how China’s corporate travel sector is not merely reacting to the winds of change, but is at the helm, steering towards, and even creating the currents

As we step into 2024, China’s commercial hubs bustle with renewed activity, signalling a resurgence in innovation and a growing appetite for change, especially in the dynamic landscape of corporate travel.

In this article, we dive into the heart of these transformative currents, examining the emerging trends set to reshape corporate travel in China.

The commercial corridors of China are starting to bustle again, returning to normalcy

Sustainable travel gains traction
Sustainability has become a focal point for corporate agendas in China, aligning with the nation’s commitment to achieving net-zero emissions by 2060. This shift towards eco-friendly practices includes investments in electric vehicles, an expanding high-speed rail network, and a preference for green-certified hotels.

Balancing work and leisure with bleisure
Bleisure is gaining popularity as Chinese professionals seek a harmonious balance between work and leisure during their travels. The challenges in international air capacity have led to a preference for trips that seamlessly blend business with recreational pursuits, prompting forward-thinking companies to revise travel policies to support employee well-being.

Efficiency through data-driven management
The ascendancy of data-driven management is transforming corporate travel in China. Big data tools empower companies to refine travel plans, simplify expense tracking, and forecast potential disruptions. This not only enhances operational efficiency but also facilitates personalised travel experiences for employees.

Prioritising employee safety with robust risk management
Proactive risk management is becoming paramount in China’s corporate travel landscape. Companies are implementing comprehensive strategies, including real-time monitoring, updated travel advisories, and 24/7 assistance hotlines, ensuring the safety of employees on the move.

Safeguarding personal information in international travel
As data privacy concerns rise, China has introduced stringent laws like the Personal Information Protection Law and the Cybersecurity Law. Companies are now mandated to implement robust data security practices to protect employee data during international travel.

Navigating anti-corruption measures in life science
China’s anti-corruption drive, particularly within the life science sector, is reshaping corporate travel practices. Companies are adjusting policies to adhere to stricter oversight, favouring practical alternatives over luxury accommodations, and embracing digital platforms for virtual interactions.

The rise of virtual meetings in business communication
Virtual meetings have evolved from crisis measures to a fundamental aspect of business operations in China. Local and global platforms like Tencent Meeting and Zoom are integral to daily workflows, offering cost savings, flexibility, and reduced environmental impact.

Adapting corporate travel to economic challenges
Economic downturns prompt a reevaluation of corporate travel budgets. Instead of indiscriminate cuts, companies are adopting a strategic approach, leveraging data analysis tools, and embracing budget-friendly measures to maintain quality travel experiences while managing costs.

As we navigate through 2024, corporate travel in China embodies a dynamic journey of discovery and innovation. The sector responds to economic pressures, technological advancements, and evolving workforce preferences, reshaping global business travel norms and serving as a vibrant conduit for business opportunities. With a thoughtful approach, companies are navigating this dynamic landscape, ensuring corporate travel remains a strategic investment in business development and relationships.

Jonathan Kao, BCD Travel’s managing director for North Asia, oversees the company’s operations in China, Hong Kong, and Japan. A BCD veteran since 2016, Kao brings to his new role a deep understanding of the Asia-Pacific region’s intricate technical, operational, and cultural nuances.

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