Global Business Travel is a Strategic Investment for Companies

Business travel is strategic investment for companies, one study after another posits, including the Harvard Business Review survey of 587 executives and managers. 

Instead of seeing it as a drain on company resources, business travel has been increasingly seen as a strategic investment and a form of employee engagement – both for the well-supported traveling employees and for remote employees who prefer more contact with their home offices. 

About 68 percent of companies believe in “treating travel as a strategic investment that adds business value rather than a cost to be minimized.” Providing a suite of corporate travel tools/technology that are effective and easy for companies to implement came in next at 43 percent. Close behind at 42 percent was “having a flexible travel policy (e.g., the ability to travel any distance at any time to any location to support the business).” 

A strong travel culture inevitably leads to valuable business results. For employers, there are improved customer experience, customer loyalty as well as better insights and data about customers; brand visibility that leads to new opportunities/markets, and better employee retention. Still others see a clear relationship between a strong global business travel program and talent acquisition

Cathy Heyne, a global mobility expert, cited another study by American Express global travel that found that companies with traveler-focused programs resulted in reduced stress for the employees involved, leading to significantly lower rates of traveler attrition. 

Global mobility professionals will also like to know that making travel easier, less stressful, and more flexible for travelers also lead to better compliance with travel policies — a bonus for them.

Even with all these benefits, though, not many companies are sold on having a business travel program. Only 30 percent provided appropriate funding for corporate travel and 19 percent of respondents have executive buy-in/support for corporate travel.

Companies recognize the value of a solid business travel program in terms of the safety it provides employees as well as being more engaged with travel objectives, which represent a brand and organization more effectively.

Another survey by Egencia, a travel management company and a subsidiary of Expedia Group, found that four in 10 survey participants (41 percent) said that having a strong travel culture is extremely or very important to their organization’s performance. However, less than a third (31 percent) of them self-identified their organization as actually having a strong travel culture.

Two-thirds of those surveyed cited “increased collaboration” (67 percent) and “the ability to build stronger relationships within the organization” as important internal business benefits of a strong travel culture, while 55 percent selected “better management of geographically dispersed teams.”

As to external business benefits, the most popular choices were “building closer relationships with key customers” (62 percent), “better collaboration with key partners and suppliers” (55 percent), and “increased understanding of customer needs” (51 percent).

Here are more benefits of business travel from World Travel Service:

  1. Traveling is a great networking opportunity. Many airlines have created lounges ideal for networking before you board, while hotels are beginning to build coworking lounge spaces for on-the-go travelers looking to build connections. If that’s not enough, a survey by Virgin Atlantic estimates that one in five people have done business with someone they met on a plane.
  1. Traveling can provide motivation and build company morale. Employees will be happy to have the opportunity to travel and experience new cultures and places, leaving them engaged, motivated, and productive. Plus, corporate travel is an excellent opportunity for team building events that will bring employees together, so they can work better when they get back to the office.
  1. Travel can foster creativity and inspiration. Experience different cultures that can provide a new way of looking at things — and a great way to learn effective problem solving. Virgin Atlantic even found that one in four of those surveyed found their best ideas while on a flight.
  1. In-person meetings can be more effective in closing deals. A study by U.K. company Concur found that 98 percent of businesses believe face-to-face contact is more effective in building relationships than meetings by phone or through email. Businesses from far away may benefit from the face-to-face communication that only traveling to meet them can afford.