Since the pandemic hit, business travel has been paused indefinitely. Eventually, we will meet clients and co-workers in person again, but we will likely do so in a way that is more thoughtful and cost-effective. A “new normal” for business travel is foreseen, so how should businesses rethink their current travelling practices?
As business travels are grounded, we have learned how to communicate with clients, prospects and co-workers in other locations without having to board a plane. People across the globe have turned into digital workers and many believe that our adoption of new digital habits will shape our ways of interacting permanently.
During the past six months, meetings and collaboration online have proven to work seamlessly, and non-existing travel expenses have contributed to cost-savings for many businesses. When the world opens up for travelling again, many companies might ask themselves how necessary it is to go back to their former business travel habits.
Such reasoning is natural if companies view travel and expense solely as a fixed cost, rather than a business investment–which has proven to positively impact company growth (Harvard Business Review). Meeting in person can have a significant influence on building vital business relationships, enabling better collaboration and strengthening the company culture.
In that case, travelling for business purposes actually makes financial sense.
Treating business travel as an investment
Although there is a strong link between a strong corporate travel culture and business performance, travel and expense spending is commonly cut when times are tough–especially in companies with a strong focus on cost. Measuring return on investment of business travels is challenging, often making it difficult to justify travel and expense from a cost perspective.
When treating travel and expenses solely as a fixed cost, companies tend to overlook the long-term business impact. Oxford Economics found that every dollar spent on business travel resulted in $12.50 in incremental revenue. When adding the potential for increased sales, stronger relationships with stakeholders and business growth into the equation, it makes more sense to view business travel as an investment.
Travel smart and thoughtful
A “new normal” for business travel is a probable outcome of the pandemic. Companies and individuals are expected to become more mindful about their travelling–both from a cost perspective and when it comes to considering to what extent each travel brings business value. This requires a more strategic and thoughtful approach to business travel.
We have collected some useful tips on how companies can make more strategic travel decisions once the world is “back in business”.
Think quality over volume:
Can you successfully arrange planned meetings online, or does it require face-to-face interactions? Planning your travels more thoughtfully will bring more value to each trip you decide to take.
Clearly define the purpose of the trip in advance:
Carefully consider what value the travel brings to your business. Set specific goals for your meetings and a clear agenda in advance so that it is easier to get down to the point and be efficient.
Set requirements to the ones you are meeting:
Make sure that the people you are planning to meet on the travel set of enough time for you. After all, you have taken your time to travel to see them and can expect their time in return.
Consider investing in travel and expense (T&E) management software:
Implementing tools that use automation and analytics can give you greater visibility into current travelling practices within the business and help make smarter travel decisions.