How to Get Buy-In for Your Business Travel Program

Show your higher-ups the value of corporate travel.

A business travel program can help you engage with clients and increase employee satisfaction.

We’ve all gotten quite used to conducting business via video conferencing, digital document exchange, and chat apps. But despite living in an advanced digital age, corporate travel is still essential to economic growth, employee engagement, and building a competitive edge in your industry.

Superior Executive Services specializes in bespoke corporate travel. We take care of all the details — from arranging luxury accommodations and private transportation to securing you and your clients’ exclusive access to exciting events. We’ve put together a guide for professionals looking for buy-in to start (or restart) a business travel program that will benefit employers, employees, and the bottom line.

Benefits of business travel

The potential return on investment for business travel often outweighs the upfront costs of airfare or a hotel room. Here are some of the top reasons to get out of the office and on the road.

  • Face time with loyal customers and potential new clients. Having a conversation in person builds trust and camaraderie, whether you’re trying to secure a new contract or are engaging with existing clients. An in-person visit allows you to better understand your customer’s operations, strategies, and corporate values in a way email or video chats just can’t convey.
  • Networking and new leads. It’s nearly impossible to meet new people and make meaningful connections behind a desk. (Plus, you never know who you’ll run into — at the airport, in the hotel lobby, or grabbing a bite to eat — who might have just the inspiration or connections you’ve been looking for.)
  • Marketing and brand recognition. There’s plenty of value in participating in a panel discussion, having a booth at a trade show, or hosting a branded party or event. You’re engaging with a motivated, captive audience with common interests who are often looking for new opportunities. You’ll also have the chance to scope out the competition and stay on top of industry trends.
  • Education and training. Sure, there are plenty of courses offered online. But in-person hands-on learning or in-person training retreats provide a richer experience, where you can interact and brainstorm with colleagues.
  • Employee engagement. Job satisfaction scores consistently improve when employees are given the opportunity to travel for work. Business travel helps team members feel valued and appreciated for good work and also encourages learning and development.

Restarting corporate travel after COVID-19

In 2020, corporate travel spending in the United States fell 71% (or $94 billion) due to the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting travel restrictions and safety protocols. Business travel programs are slowly starting to rebound, however. McKinsey & Company released four steps to approaching the future of corporate travel that might help you restart your program:

  1. Leverage real-time data to inform decision making
  2. Embed agility into your planning strategy
  3. Personalize experiences based on safety and comfort
  4. Communicate clearly

Your pitch

Put in the work ahead of time to present a solid plan and you’ll be more like to succeed in moving your business travel program forward. Here are some tips to get started:

  • Trust the data. Use hard facts — customer information, travel expenses, and opportunity costs if you do not travel — to demonstrate ROI.
  • Research the competition. External benchmarking can be useful in deciding whether to return to corporate travel. What are other companies doing to keep employees safe? Which clients are your competitors reaching more effectively?
  • Set a budget. Establishing a budget based on the past few years may be tricky. Here are some Tips for Getting a Handle on Your 2021 Corporate Travel Spend.
  • Create a backup plan. Stay flexible and establish an ongoing process for evaluating the safety of travel. Be prepared to adapt to evolving regulations and recommendations.
  • Work with key stakeholders. Above all, gather input and feedback from everyone involved with both business operations and health and safety, from human resources to sales and marketing to managers and executives. Send a survey or set up a focus group to talk to those who might be traveling and gauge their comfort level.

Superior Executive Services offers endless options for corporate travel, from golf travel packages to culinary food and wine events sure to win approval from clients and employees alike. We’re your preferred business travel program partner. Call us at 608.665.9070 or contact us online with questions or to start planning your corporate getaway today!

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