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The ROI of Corporate Travel

Mar 13, 2015

‘Not all cuts are smart cuts’

How corporate travel sees a return on your investment

In a world of emails, mobile phones, and conference calls, it’s easy to think that corporate travel isn’t as important for your business as it once was. However despite the abundance of innovation in the digital sphere, one thing that hasn’t changed about human nature is our innate need for face-to-face communication. Whether it’s travelling across the country by train to visit a prospective client, or flying to the other side of the world to ensure your new manufacturing site has been set up efficiently, taking the time to assess a business opportunity in person has continuously proved to be more cost-efficient and beneficial for company revenue.

In a recent study by Oxford Economics, it was found that an estimated 28% of company revenue would have been lost if not for face-to-face meetings with customers. The study also determined that on average, around 40% of prospective customers are influenced by discussing proposals in person. Whilst conference calls and Skype are nifty little inventions there’s nothing quite like knowing your investment isn’t just in a voice on the end of a line or a company with a fancy website – it’s also in the people that have just flown four hours to meet you and discuss the opportunity in person. Face-to-face meetings give your prospective customer confidence that they have your support and expertise – highly investable qualities that are hard to determine over a phone call. Sure, your British Airways plane ticket may have cost you a pretty penny, but the pennies you’ll get back from taking the time to present in person may well turn out to be far, far greater.

Another common reason that is often undermined is the need for internal travel – for conferences, networking opportunities, training courses, and potential joint ventures. Whilst it may not be entirely obvious how much of an immediate financial return you’ll get from that trip, without realising it, you’ll be shaping the course of the company and your business success over your competitors. The more staff that are being trained on a specific area of your business the more efficient it will become, and the more networking lunches you attend, the more your brand will be noticed and remembered. It seems so simple but often internal travel can seem financially fruitless and unnecessary. It’s time out of the office, and quite frankly, travel is often labelled as being a burden. But attending the most important trade show of the year is just as important for your brand as sitting at your desk answering emails. Your business can only grow to the size of your office if you’re never willing to leave it and brace the world of professional development, job performance, and even office morale.

At Business Travel Direct we believe that the foundations of corporate travel are built upon seeing a significant return on your investment. There are predominately three areas in which we can guarantee that an investment in us as your travel solution will see more savings for your company.

Firstly, the time it takes your staff to look online for the best deals, book their travel, and reconcile all financial data is essentially time away from what they do best – supporting your business. Trawling through an infinite list of booking sites can take up an entire morning; a morning that would’ve been better spent working through the mounting list of things to do. We can give you a single booking platform that will allow you to book your rail, car hire, flights, and hotels simultaneously and guarantee the best prices. We have a database of over 200,000 hotels and all major airlines on our system so you can make an informed, time and cost effective decision. And what’s great about our online booking tool, SMARTbooker, is that we can shape it around your travel policy and trip preferences. If you don’t want your staff booking first class train travel, then we’ll make it so that first class is not an option for them to select. Or, if you’d rather that all travel had to be approved by a manager before checking out, then we can make that happen too. You name it and we can tailor it – so you’re never surprised when your monthly travel report comes in. All of our online booking tools are powered by industry leaders like Concur, Evolvi and The Trainline, so you know you’ll be getting only the best technology. And, to save time for your finance department we can automate a central billing process and capture all the data you need to process the transactions – so you won’t have to routinely hunt for all the confirmations and receipts for yourself. The less time you spend on booking your travel, the more time you have to be productive.

Secondly, we’ve been in the travel industry for 44 years and during this time we’ve built strong business relationships with our suppliers. We’ve worked tirelessly, flown miles, and attended countless charity dinners and lunches to ensure that we receive only the very best rates out there. Using our Consortia Advantage Membership we have a buying power of over £3 billion which we use to invest in negotiated rates that ultimately trickle all the way down to your two night stay in Bristol. Not only do we know how to get you the best rates in the industry, but we’ll break down all this information for you into sophisticated reports and analysis of your travel solution. We’ll highlight the savings you’ve made (so can use that budget for something else) and we’ll also let you know where you missed opportunities to make a saving. We might notice certain travel behaviour amongst your employees that isn’t particularly cost-effective, for example there may be a trend in booking only two days ahead of their train travel, rather than two weeks. We’ll actually work out how much you could’ve saved if you’d booked in advance, and even suggest shaping your rail SMARTbooker tool so that any train travel booked less than two weeks in advance has to be signed off by a manager. We’ve got the tools and the expertise to deliver you a cost-effective travel solution, meaning there’s more money for you to invest somewhere else.

Finally as I previously mentioned, the value of knowing when a conference call will do the trick and when a one night away trip to somewhere in Europe might be needed is indispensable. It could be the difference between losing up to 40% of potential new business, and keeping your head and shoulders above your competitors. As Adam Sacks, MD of Oxford Economics said, ‘not all cuts are smart cuts, and when companies cut their travel budgets, there are negative consequences that we can now quantify in terms of loss of revenue and profit growth’. In not-so-fancy-terms, all Sacks means is by deciding not to travel for business, you could be cutting down your potential for new business, professional growth and even office morale quite dramatically. You can’t put a price on a solid handshake and a face-to-face meeting with your prospective client, but if you could, we reckon that the cost of a train ticket might just be okay.