As business and work relationships become increasingly digitalized, one may be tempted to think that business travel is no longer as essential as it used to be. However, just as COVID-19 restrictions began to ease up, corporate travel quickly started to grow again and is now approaching pre-pandemic levels. Clearly, the shift towards digitalization is not reducing the need and demand for business trips.
This is also confirmed by a recent survey, in which most respondents said that business travel boosts productivity in a way that virtual interactions can’t. Moreover, the survey highlighted how 80% of employed Americans consider face-to-face interaction crucial for their organization’s success.
In this article, we will explore how business travel is a key determinant of a company’s results and why including it in your business strategy is the best move you can make.
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There are several ways in which corporate travel can help you achieve your business goals.
Integrating business travel into your strategy gives you an edge over competitors by enabling you to connect with more prospects and build better relationships with your existing clients. While virtual communication undoubtedly provides several benefits, it has its limitations and downsides and can’t fully replace in-person interaction. According to the Oxford Economics Report USA, the average American business gives up a staggering 17% of its profits in the first year of cancelling business travel.
When interacting with new or potential clients, face-to-face meetings play a vital role in creating trust, as well as allowing your representatives to fully take advantage of body language to close more deals. According to the aforementioned report, business travellers and executives claim that 40% of their prospects are converted to new clients through face-to-face interactions.
In many industries, in-person business events and conferences are essential to expand your pool of potential buyers and reduce the number of steps your need to convert prospects into customers. How many cold phone calls or emails to a client company’s purchasing manager do you need to achieve what you can do with a handshake and a real-life conversation at a trade show or workshop?
Direct human connection is also paramount when cultivating relations with an existing business client. In the digital age, customers feel increasingly alienated by their providers, as if they were just another number in a soulless, standardized seller-buyer process. Face-to-face meetings communicate to your clients how much you value your relationship and truly care for their needs, concerns, and business goals.
In addition to increasing networking opportunities and boosting client retention, business travel can also play a useful role in assisting the company’s human resources, as we will explore in the following section.
The combined effect of these factors has a major impact on your company’s bottom line growth, so much so that Oxford Economics found that the return on investment of business travel is an outstanding $12.50 per dollar invested.
When managed effectively, business travel can play a role in increasing your workers’ productivity and improving their well-being.
A worrying finding of Gallup’s 2022 report is that stress is at an all-time high among workers around the world. This refers to both tensions caused by work and those carried over into work from other areas of a person’s life.
There are numerous ways in which stress leads to decreased productivity in the workplace. These include decreased energy, lower focus, reduced creativity, increased tardiness, and more worries, as well as a decrease in the level of cooperativeness and team spirit among workers. These problems also lead to a higher level of turnover as workers start looking for less stressful job opportunities elsewhere.
Poor travel management can contribute to stress issues, as highlighted in a report by CWT Solutions. The document identifies 33 stress triggers that business travellers usually experience. Yet the study also found that adopting traveller-focused solutions aimed at reducing trip-related stress can boost a company’s productivity by as much s 32%.
Increased cooperation between human resource managers and travel managers is essential to implement these solutions. On top of developing effective travel plans that minimize stress triggers, such as waiting times, communication difficulties or inefficient transportation, the two departments can look for ways to incorporate leisure and relaxing activities in business trips, an increasingly popular trend known nowadays as Bleisure, and which we will explore in the next section.
As mentioned earlier, stress is one of those issues that negatively impact a worker’s well-being and can also lead to a higher turnover. We no longer live in an age in which all employees require from their job is a paycheck at the end of each month and some bonus at the end of the year.
Nowadays, companies are expected to look after employee well-being, as well as take into account their workers’ goals and aspirations. Organizations should see this as an investment rather than a cost. When employees feel part of a healthy work environment in which they are recognized, valued, and taken care of, their levels of motivation, productivity, and loyalty tend to increase. They also end up identifying more with the organization and become its most effective natural promoters in the outside world.
Reducing turnover should be one of the primary company goals. Studies have highlighted how the cost of replacing an employee can amount to 33% of that worker’s salary. Adopting strategies aimed at increasing workers’ wellness and improving their work-life balance can play a vital role in dodging these costs by boosting employee retention.
We already mentioned how corporate travel is a good perk to offer with the rampant trend of Bleisure, that is, combining business and pleasure in one trip. This could range from arranging for workers to stay in hotels that offer additional services (such as SPA and other relaxing activities) to adding a couple of extra days to the trip and allowing them to explore the place as tourists to organizing nightlife and other social activities that multiple workers can enjoy after completing all business tasks during a trip.
Insights provided by Air Plus International show that 27% of business trips in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa incorporate a whole day dedicated to leisure activities and that 60% of business trips in the US include some leisure element.
Corporate wellness retreat programs and entertainment events can also be offered in combination with trips. They are a great tool to reward your workforce’s efforts and reduce their levels of stress and fatigue, thus benefiting in terms of both higher productivity and lower turnover.
It’s increasingly obvious that business travel is here to stay, and its role is going to expand way beyond its formal logistical function. Seeing it as an integral part of your company’s strategy allows you to reap benefits in multiple areas, from finding new prospects to strengthening relations with current clients to boosting the workforce’s performance and retention.
These benefits are multiplied when using an integrated corporate travel management platform like TruTrip that allows you to cut travel costs, organize a trip’s schedule efficiently, optimize communication, and maximize travellers’ comfort and satisfaction. Sign up for a free trial and start enjoying the benefits of next-level travel management.
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