From increased revenue to lasting and effective professional relationships, business travel is a strategic investment with many benefits, whether you’re an SME looking to scale or a larger organization.
If, thus far, your organization has not made business travel a priority, it may be time you changed that.
Other companies are already making this strategic investment. According to a Deloitte study from April 2023, business travel spend in the combined U.S. and European markets is projected to surpass two-thirds of 2019 business travel spend by the end of the year, with full recovery to 2019 spend levels achieved by as early as late 2024. Both U.S. and European Travelers noted for the study that they expect about a third of business travel spend in 2023 to go toward international travel, with live business events playing a large role in growth.
So why are so many companies returning to a pre-pandemic level of business travel and once again acknowledging travel is a strategic investment? It’s all about the benefits.
Here’s what business travel can do for your organization.
1. Business travel fuels innovation.
Many Executives will tout the importance of business travel and face-to-face collaboration, stating that the same level of creativity and innovation just can’t be obtained over a laptop screen. While some might assume those are just claims made in an effort to get workforces back in the office, those Executives have a data-backed point.
According to a recent study by the Harvard Business School, it could very well be the case that more business travel makes for greater invention. The study found that when there’s a 10% increase in non-stop flights between two destinations, there’s also a 1.4% increase in new patents between firms in those places. The business travel in this study had the greatest impact between destinations where time zones or cultural differences made remote collaboration more difficult. Harvard Business School noted that the research should be considered by business leaders when evaluating their business travel and its value.
2. Business travel fuels economic growth.
Another Harvard study found that business travel equals economic growth. In this study, researchers posited that there’s a difference between moving ideas via digital channels and physically moving the brains that have those ideas — and that the latter option— results in GDP growth. They then theorized that without business travel, the world could experience a double-digit loss in global GDP.
3. Business travel builds employee skills.
If you’re not necessarily worried about the broader, global economic effects of business travel and how they might play into your travel investment, consider how business travel can boost your teams’ abilities to work with others and within their roles.
Yet another study from Harvard Business Review indicated that business travel can help boost employees’ confidence, stimulate employees to view their work in a new light, expand creativity and boost problem-solving skills. (The study even indicated that short-term travel could help in these areas more so than long-term travel, as short business trips often require business Travelers to achieve a certain objective within a limited timeframe.)
4. Business travel can help attract and retain talent.
In a business environment where talent is at a premium, offering whatever you can to attract and retain talent is a smart choice. According to a study from HR Zone that looked at U.K. Travelers specifically, business travel can be a big perk for talent when handled correctly. Survey respondents said that business travel exposed them to new and positive experiences, helped with their career development, and made their jobs overall more interesting.
(Of course, it must be noted that travel alone is not enough to entice talent; employers have a duty of care toward employees that must be considered, ensuring Travelers are safe, comfortable and healthy while traveling.)
5. Business travel is proven to make money.
Lastly, at the end of the day, business travel will likely simply make your company more money.
While this can be a somewhat controversial topic within the industry due to the difficulty quantifying travel spend ROI, some report that, for every dollar spent on business travel, a company can expect to make $12.50 in revenue. This revenue comes from resulting factors like gaining new clients, as well as retaining existing clients(A study reported in the Harvard Business Review found that face-to-face requests are 34 times more effective than emailed ones). This helps point to the psychological importance of business travel, as face-to-face interactions help gain and retain business.
It’s no wonder that, even though some feared tech would replace the need for business travel in the post-pandemic landscape, global business travel has experienced an accelerated rebound. The latest Global Business Travel Association Travel Index Outlook report predicts the industry will surpass its pre-pandemic spending level of $1.4 trillion in 2024, growing to nearly $1.8 trillion by 2027.
Business travel also, of course, often includes visits to trade shows, which, according to various resources, are responsible for up to a fifth of all new customers.
Travel is a strategic investment — are you getting your ROI?
Of course, with every smart investment comes a positive ROI. How do you ensure you’re getting the ROI you need, like the above benefits, from your company’s strategic travel choices?
This is where a Travel Management Company like JTB Business Travel can help. The right Travel Manager or TMC can look at your business goals beyond travel and analyze how business travel might best serve those goals. They can track your travel spending and Traveler habits to see how you might be able to optimize business travel for the greatest ROI possible.
Additionally, one of the main reasons employees give for not wanting to travel for work is the environment, as business travel is a major contributor to climate change. When you partner with a TMC, they can help you develop sustainability goals for your business travel, track sustainability metrics and show your employees how you’re taking environmental impacts into account with every business travel decision you make.
While, yes, travel is a strategic investment, partnering with a TMC is even more of a strategic investment, because that TMC is the one who can help you realize your business travel ROI.
Learn more about what JT Business Travel could do for you today, and start seeing a positive return on your business travel investment.