Growth is a goal for every company, no matter the business size or industry sector. Yet for many organizations in 2020, plans for growth were temporarily paused and replaced with new priorities of mitigating losses and shoring up safety concerns.
As discussed in our introduction to this series last week, even though the COVID-19 pandemic has made it challenging to do business in 2021, there is a path forward beyond video calls and virtual meetings. To drive growth in this still-evolving environment, you need the proper fuel. Your corporate travel program can power your business, but only if you adapt your plans and stay ahead of the competition. Here is how you can use your travel to reconnect your team with key contacts and win the business.
Reap the ROI of Travel
Travel is often viewed as one of the most difficult expenses to manage. In fact, a survey of financial decision makers ranked it second only to maintenance and repairs. This was even more evident in 2020 due to the changing nature of border restrictions and quarantine requirements.
However, the most successful business leaders view travel not as another line item expense, but as an investment in company growth. According to a study by Oxford Economics and the US Travel Association, for every dollar invested in business travel, a company can expect an incremental return of $12.50 (USD) in revenue. This is because corporate travel powers business development, increases client retention, and provides further opportunities for networking and prospecting.
Rather than focusing on travel expenses solely as a cost to control, view it as a strategic investment fine-tuned to fuel business growth. When mapping out your travel for the year ahead, ask yourself this question: What is my organization trying to achieve through our travel and how much should we invest in order to accomplish this? The right travel partner can help you navigate this question and pinpoint a solution that meets both your travel needs and your business goals.
With market conditions changing frequently, it is more important than ever to stay connected with clients and prospects.
While hybrid and virtual components should be a part of your strategy, they are not enough on their own to stand out from competitors. According to a survey by Skift, 81.6 percent of travellers think that meeting in person is more effective than meeting virtually. Technology has made huge advancements since the onset of the pandemic, but it cannot replace the value of face-to-face interactions.
Instead, leaders should work with their teams to build travel plans that prioritize business recovery and employee safety. This can be accomplished through highly targeted business trips led by your top talent. For example, experts predict longer, more purposeful business trips that anticipate demand and account for key market differences will be the new standard moving forward. Adapting to this mode of corporate travel will ensure your team is able to go head-to-head with your competition.
Win the Business
Of course, the ultimate goal of staying competitive is to win the business.
While the disruption caused by COVID-19 may have temporarily set your organization back, it likely did the same for your competitors. Many businesses have significantly less resources at their disposal than they did a year ago, making it difficult to stay connected with a large number of prospects.
This is backed by research from McKinsey, which shows that—once companies resume in-person meetings for business development or sales purposes—there will be an increased pressure to return to travel in order win (or win back) key customers. Virtual technology may serve as a tool to get in front of prospects, but face-to-face interactions enable your team to make the closing case for your company, effectively sealing the deal.
Formulate Your Plan
Successful business leaders know that face-to-face meetings and travel will always be essential for growth, even when augmented with digital components. To prevent your organization from falling behind the curve, you need to formulate a plan now for safely reconnecting your employees with key prospects and accounts.
The Direct Travel team can take this task off your to-do list and help you grow your business. Contact us to learn more about creating a plan for resuming your travel program.
UP NEXT: In our next article in this series, we will cover another important aspect of rebuilding your business through travel—tackling the uncertainty ahead.