Apple's former CEO thinks the coronavirus shift to working from home will see airlines and hotels permanently rethinking business travel revenue expectations

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John Sculley

  • As the former chief executive of both Pepsi and Apple, John Sculley has a fair amount of experience in guiding companies through downturns. 
  • Sculley predicts that the fundamental shift in consumer behavior as a result of the coronavirus pandemic is going to present a far more challenging problem to the airline and hotel industries than any temporary economic downturn. 
  • "I'm getting actually more work done working remotely from my home office, and not racing around," Sculley pointed out. "So what's the impact gonna be on airline travel for business?"
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

The airline and hotel industries had better get cracking on re-imagining what business travel is going to look like once the coronavirus pandemic winds up, according to John Sculley, the former CEO of Apple. 

Sitting in his home office in Palm Beach, Florida, Sculley predicted that a new work-from-home era is going to present fundamental challenges to industries currently relying on revenue from business travel. 

"I used to travel a lot everywhere. I thought nothing to jumping on a plane, flying somewhere, meeting somebody, going to a conference," Sculley explained to Business Insider. "But I'm getting actually more work done working remotely from my home office, and not racing around. So what's the impact gonna be on airline travel for business?"

As the coronavirus pandemic has swept across the world, the travel industry has been hammered by travel precautions and flight bans over the past few months. Startups have begun laying off workers and shuttering their business. 

But Sculley's observation points out the more fundamental problems that the travel sector may face in the months ahead. While travel for the holidays may bounce back, industries relying on revenue from business travel may struggle in a world where remote work has proven itself effective. 

"My sense is that it's going to take longer for those industries to come back unless they get imaginative and start to rethinking," Sculley said, adding "my guess is that business travel will probably be down for a long time."

Work-from-home outlasting the coronavirus

As the coronavirus pandemic has swept across the world, Wall Street is rife with predictions of an incoming economic downturn. But Sculley, an experienced executive who also had a stint leading Pepsi, has a reassuring take - every downturn comes to an end, as does every epidemic. 

"I believe that at some point, the US economy and the world economy will get right-sided again," Sculley said. "There will be an end to the coronavirus pandemic."

And some industries may actually owe their breakthrough to the new era of remote work. Sculley, now an advisor at the cloud-based pharmacy benefit manager RxAdvance, predicted that some industries like telehealth and video-conferencing would rise to prominence thanks to a rapid adoption during the coronavirus pandemic. 

"The way I think about it as someone who runs companies is all about getting your frame of mind adapted to the reality of 'what is', but more importantly, the reality of 'what is likely to be' when the pandemic ends," Sculley explained. 

SEE ALSO: This alt-meat startup just raised $80 million from investors including Bill Gates' and Al Gore's funds to develop its 'super protein' that's neither animal nor plant

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