How Your Travel Program Can Drive Business Growth

During the pandemic, growth in the corporate travel sphere was limited by a combination of factors such as border restrictions, supply chain constraints, and staffing shortages. Today, as the industry continues to bounce back and cater to an increasingly hybrid or remote workforce, business travel has evolved to be an even more integral part of company culture and connectivity.

Even so, there are lingering concerns as major markets around the world face various stages of economic uncertainty. Although the U.S. is not currently in a recession, experts predict a slow-growth year ahead, which may affect business operations. This can actually be an area of opportunity for those who manage travel, especially since over 40% of employees say traveling for work is important for maintaining client relationships or starting new ones.

Here are three steps to take to ensure your company’s travel program remains a driver of growth – even during times with tighter budgets:

Evaluate “Why” You’re Traveling for Business

Companies are making more calculated, conscious choices surrounding their business travel and examining each trip to determine its value against fluctuating economic goals. Consider the following questions when suggesting (or approving) an upcoming business trip:

  • What company goal will this trip support, and how will it help us reach that goal?
  • What elements of the trip can be enhanced through virtual tools?
  • Are all the necessary team members attending, making this trip as productive as possible?
  • Could this trip be combined with another?

For those who have a trip approval process already in place, consider how the process can be updated to ensure questions such as these are adequately addressed. Future business trips that remain will be more purposeful, calculated, and thought through.

Use In-Person Time Wisely

Even with uncertain economic conditions, organizations are eager to continue getting travel back on track, and they still see value in face-to-face business interactions. For hybrid or entirely remote companies, business travel fills the void of not having a physical office.

In-person meetings with clients can be a powerful way to build and maintain customer relationships. These personal interactions can foster a level of trust and loyalty that cannot be replicated over email. Client-facing meetings can have a financial benefit for the organization because certain business goals – such as closing a crucial deal with a big account – can be handled more effectively in person.

Clients are not the only team to benefit from in-person meetings. Internal company offsites are critical for team bonding, especially for fully remote organizations where employees may not often have the chance to connect in person. Business travel becomes a method to build and maintain company culture, and these in-person occasions can have a positive impact on team morale.

Not only has business travel been reinvented to meet these new demands for collaboration, team-building, and networking, but today’s business trips also allow companies to explore new markets. Having team members on the ground can provide insights into local cultures and identify opportunities for potential growth – opportunities that might not be accessible through remote research.

Lean on a Trusted Partner for Help

Effective travel management can be a challenging undertaking during times of prosperity, let alone when budgets require stricter scrutiny. A travel management company is a key partner who can help plan, execute, and report on your organization’s business travel and assist with:

Cost Savings

Organizations tasked with doing more with less might be tempted to reduce their travel spend, but working with a TMC can help make the most of nearly any travel budget. They can suggest options for accommodations, help save money on flights, and propose a list of approved partners to work with.

At Direct Travel for example, we provide our clients with our Direct Price Assurance to optimize their bookings and ensure they have access to the best rates. We check rates daily and automatically rebook travelers when rates drop to make sure they are maximizing their savings.

Environmental Impact

Travel managers today may be tasked with determining if a business trip is worth the emissions, and a TMC can be a knowledgeable resource to help an organization embrace greener travel options. Direct Travel assists in measuring where our clients’ CO2 emissions are today, suggests ways to embrace reduction targets, and even helps with choosing an Offset Portfolio to reach sustainability goals.

Traveler Experience

According to the 2023 SAP Concur Global Business Travelers Report, travelers are more cautious when accepting a business trip now for a variety of reasons. Those surveyed said they recognize the benefit of having a travel policy in place and do tend to follow it, but would book outside policy if they had safety, work-life-balance, or sustainability concerns. This shows the importance of having a travel policy that reflects your employees’ values and addresses their security and comfort. Taking the traveler experience into consideration is now more important than ever.

With the industry forecast to hit nearly $1 trillion by 2030, companies will continue to examine why and how they travel in the years to come. Business travel remains a powerful driver of growth, regardless of how economic goals fluctuate and what the year ahead brings. To refine your approach to in-person trips, contact our team at Direct Travel and we can help you develop a more purposeful approach to business travel.