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Business Travel Rebounds as Execs Choose (Real) Face Time Over Zoom

Companies are reporting more trips, proving doomsayers from the pandemic’s darkest days wrong.

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Illustration: Nichole Shinn for Bloomberg Businessweek

Since January, Jen Coleman has kicked her videoconferencing habit, flying from her home in London, first to Miami and later to Melbourne, to see clients in person—and win a renewed contract for her company. “I’ve spent two years on Zoom,” says Coleman, 33, who helps Australian phone company Optus manage its relationship with Formula One driver Daniel Ricciardo. “It’s just not the same.”

Coleman’s experience is just one small piece of evidence pointing to a rebound in business travel. Airlines’ early fears that videoconference applications such as Zoom, Teams, and Skype might keep lucrative business travelers home permanently are subsiding as governments ease border restrictions and executives rediscover the commercial value of human contact. Data from four top companies that manage corporate travel show that two years after Covid-19 pushed aviation to the brink, premium-class cabins are filling up again. The pessimists “were wrong,” says Andrew Crawley, chief commercial officer for American Express Global Business Travel, the industry leader. “Business travelers are coming back.”