Strategic Business Travel
For many companies and corporations, business travel is purely a cost item, and a huge one. Looking at the top 5 spenders on business travel they easily spent 500 million USD on airtravel alone per year. Deloitte’s travel expenses globally in 2016 for example was around 1.6 billion USD. No wonder that companies are continuously looking at ways on how to reduce business travel spending. Thus, a strategic business travel approach is needed.
Strategic Business Travel turns costs into an asset
The introduction of video conference technologies had a great impact on how companies are operating. While before, people who worked on the same project needed to be placed in the same location. If you could not find the needed manpower around your company’s office, you had to import (expatriate) that knowledge. That came at a high cost to the corporation as well as a high risk on whether those experts from abroad will actually be able to adopt to your local environment and settle down.
With high quality video conferencing, it is finally possible to have people working on the same project which are based in different locations. As well in terms of hiring, companies can finally benefit from the global talent pool when recruiting. You will even find companies today, which are 100% operating virtually, without any permanent office structures. New technologies and faster internet speed helped companies to reduce travel costs but the concept of strategic business travel is still not understood fully.
If you look at business travel, there are basically two types:
- External business travel – travel related to meeting with clients, vendors, partners with little influence on where and when to meet
- Internal business travel – travel related to internal meetings, bringing global teams together or any other internal global group travel
How can you turn these two types into strategic business travel?
External Strategic Business Travel
When you are not in control of the details of a meeting, it becomes difficult to turn costs into an asset. Still, there are ways on how to turn those trips into more strategic business travel. The underlying magic of strategic business travel is the idea of continuously building relationships with your key leads, clients or partners. Strong relationships will reduce the probability of your key client exchanging your services through a competitor and will allow you as well to have more flexibility on the price you are charging.
So why are many companies or sales team mostly focusing on the short-term sale rather than on the long-term strategic relation?
Strategic business travel includes having more in-person meetings with strategic clients, leads or partner. You are twice as likely to convert prospects into customers with an in-person meeting. In-person or face-to-face meetings is one of the easiest ways for your business to build they type of positive reputation it needs to succeed in an increasingly competitive world.
Concrete steps on how to turn your trips to meet key clients into strategic business travel are:
- Know your most important leads – if you don’t know who are the key players you need to have on board, it will be difficult to apply any strategy around it.
- Increase the ratio of how often you meet in person – It takes 6 to 8 touches to generate a viable lead. So make sure that you have those touch points mainly in person and don’t forget to take care of your already existing top assets. Depending on the study you use but the cost of acquiring a new customer is anywhere from 5 to 25 times more expensive than retaining an existing one.
- Strategically plan in-person meetings – you don’t have to always travel to the office of your top contact. Those people are traveling as well and may participate in certain conferences. Coordinate, for example, your conference participation.
- Coordinate your colleagues travel – Imagine you are in the service industry and your top technology expert in travel to a city where a key client of yours is based. Why not offering a small and free workshop of your technology team to the client’s tech team on new features of your system? Many companies are missing out on the opportunity to use synergy effects and coordinate all business travel. In almost any combination you can find a value in having a representative of your business interacting with the team of your top client or prospect.
- Create peer-to-peer groups – Be the matchmaker for bringing clients or partner together which can benefit from each other even if it is without you. This creates trust which is the base of any meaningful relationship.
Internal Strategic Business Travel
Turning internal business travel into strategic business travel is easier because you are in control of the details of the meeting. It all starts with the selection of where to meet. Make your decision data-driven by using for example platforms like TroopTravel. Saving potential of 56% for a global board meeting with 17 travelers from 13 different locations can be easily identified.
Here our suggestions on how to add a strategic component to your business travel:
- Meet location independent – How do you select a meeting location for a global team? Normally not by using data. Personal opinions are influencing meeting location selections. Systems like TroopTravel will help you to create accountability around your meeting selection. When bringing internal teams together, your decision should take elements like cost, visa requirements, experience and strategic importance into account.
- Give value to the ecosystem – Maybe the biggest missed opportunity companies face with their internal business meetings is the lacking engagement with the ecosystem. If you bring your top sales team together, why not organizing a dinner for a selected group of leads the day before the internal meeting? Think even a step further, why not engaging with local universities and try to organize a gathering with students to create brand awareness or contacts to potential future hires. Just some food for thoughts.
- Work virtual, meet in person – The way we work is changing. People are more and more interested in finding employment opportunities which are line with personal circumstances. Allowing your employees to work virtual can have a massive impact on employees satisfaction and efficiency. If your strategy goes along these lines, add the important face-to-face meeting component to it. Ideally, schedule a once a month in-person meeting. Sounds scary in terms of costs but will in the long-term help you to transform your business. In any case, the trend towards virtual companies is unstoppable. So better get ready now.
Strategic business travel paves the way into the future. People will travel more and it is time to turn your business travel costs into an asset. Today, corporate travel management is still far behind its full potential and especially the planning aspect is purely depending on personal opinions. When do you start to introduce change?
Do you want to learn more about data driven strategic business travel? Reach out to us. The TroopTravel Corporate Platform brings all information together which helps you to take informed decisions when organizing your global business travel.