“The days of traveling long distances for one meeting with one person could be gone forever, but people will travel for business at scale into perpetuity,” said Dan Richards, CEO of The Global Rescue Companies, the world’s leading provider of medical, security, evacuation and travel risk management services.

Richards is alluding to new data coming out of the Global Rescue Winter Traveler Sentiment and Safety Survey which plainly shows that business travel continues to increase, while virtual meetings are losing dominance as a replacement for work-related travel. “In-person meetings are more effective at establishing and maintaining relationships. It’s no surprise that work-related travel is rising,” Richards said.

According to the survey, respondents traveling for business jumped 37% compared to survey results nearly a year ago. More than two-thirds (68%) of respondents said their business travel would be both international and domestic. Global Rescue surveyed more than 1,500 of its current and former members between January 25-30, 2024. The respondents revealed a variety of behaviors, attitudes and preferences regarding current and future travel.

More than a fifth of business travelers (22%) reported work-related travel will exceed pre-pandemic levels in 2024, doubling the 11% reported in 2023. Early last year, 35% of business travelers said business travel would be “half or less than half” of pre-pandemic levels. Now, a year later, that percentage has dropped by a third with only 23% of business travelers reporting that their work-related travel would be half or less than pre-pandemic levels.


[Related Reading: Unique Laws International Business Travelers Should Know]


Virtual meetings and video conference calls are losing their dominance as a replacement for business travel, according to the survey. More than half (56%) of business travelers responding to the survey said virtual meetings and video conferences are not replacing in-person business travel to a significant extent.

“Virtual meetings have their place, but they can’t replace face-to-face meetings,” said Paul Mullen, vice president of sales at Global Rescue. “Personal interaction will always be more effective at establishing and maintaining relationships, fostering trust and driving company growth.”

“You can’t get to know a prospect, current client or business partner professionally and personally when you’re not in person,” Mullen said. “In a video chat, there is more opportunity for distraction and multitasking, the meetings themselves can feel rushed, the technology can glitch. That’s not how you maintain a strong business relationship that lasts.”


CEO Dan Richards meets with a client from Haiti


As business travel increases globally, so do the challenges facing employers who must balance employee safety in the face of threats of international violent conflicts, terrorism and civil unrest. “The biggest management challenge in this evolving environment will be how duty of care plays a role in protecting a business traveler and a location-independent workforce,” Richards said. “Business leaders have to ask themselves if a set of rules or policies designed to maintain the health, safety and well-being of their employees are in place.”

Unfortunately, the overwhelming majority of business travelers surveyed (74%) say they do not have or do not know if they have a duty of care policy in place. The majority of the 26% of business travelers who say they have duty of care provisions in place reported the policy includes pre-trip planning, health alerts, on-trip event alerts, on-trip security or travel tracking.

“Business leaders carry a duty of care responsibility to their employees, to take care of them and avoid exposing them to any unnecessary or undue risk. As global work-related travel continues to increase, the more duty of care policies must evolve,” Richards said.


[Related Reading: Understanding Your Duty of Care Obligation]


Most business travelers lack immediate access to travel intelligence information or communication capabilities that may be lifesaving in the event of a medical or security emergency.

Global Rescue’s GRID 2.0 changes that.

“I rely on GRID to keep our worldwide workforce safe. With real-time tracking and emergency alerts, GRID gives me the visibility and response capabilities to protect our travelers anytime, anywhere. This innovative platform is essential for globally minded organizations like ours,” said Eric Cioè-Peña, MD, MPH, FACEP, and vice president of global health center for Northwell Health.

I rely on GRID to keep our worldwide workforce safe.
– Eric Cioè-Peña, MD, MPH, FACEP


The GRID 2.0 system distributes event notifications and alerts for civil unrest, disease-related developments, safety issues, transportation disruptions, communications blackouts and natural disasters including floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, and volcanic activity.

In an emergency, the GRID 2.0 app puts its members in immediate contact with the medical teams and military special operations veterans who staff Global Rescue’s global operations centers.

“The GRID mobile app places critical medical, security and other essential travel intelligence at the fingertips of my traveling workforce, and the GRID Administrator Control Center gives us access to global risks 24/7/365 so we can monitor and respond for the safety of our business travelers,” said Sherri Hersh, senior manager, International Accreditation, ABET.

“Global Rescue’s Intelligence Delivery system (GRID 2.0) is the world’s only integrated medical and security mobile app for travel risk, asset tracking, intelligence delivery and crisis response management. GRID 2.0 places critical medical, security and other essential travel intelligence in the hands of leisure and business workforce travelers. Last year more than 10,000 global events were reported with nearly a million event alerts distributed,” Richards said.


GRID 2.0 screen showing traveler tracking features