According to Corporate Traveller GM Bonnie Smith, sky-high ticket prices and tighter company wallets can sometimes make business trips feel more like boot camp than a perk, with business travellers pinching pennies and facing more pressure to make the trip worth every cent.
“The fluctuating rand hasn’t helped – daily travel allowances barely cover the basics. And you know what they say about all work and no play– it’s making these trips much less glamorous and more grind,” said Smith.
She said any frequent flyer will agree that business trips can be a hectic whirlwind of meetings and deadlines which can be exacerbated by picking cheaper, less convenient flights or crazy early mornings or late nights, long layovers, or having to bounce between multiple airports, adding to a business traveller’s workload.
“Instead of saving energy for the big meeting, you’re left dealing with jet lag and travel fatigue. And the time you could’ve spent prepping or chilling? Wasted on navigating the extra travel hassle.
“Add to this the discomfort of spending layovers on an airport bench because you’ve dropped from silver to bronze, and the benefits that took some of the heavy lifting out of travel have vanished,” said Smith.
The GM revealed that companies are also making sure they get a bang for their buck, so instead of a one-day business trip with a single meeting, travellers now find their itineraries packed to include multiple appointments, visits, reviews, and the odd networking dinner thrown in.
“The rationale? If we’re spending so much to get you there, we might as well make the most of it. The result?
“The Q2 2023 Quarterly Trends Report shows corporations are travelling, on average, 20% less than 2019. The unintended benefit – it’s better for the environment to batch meetings,” said Smith.
When it comes to lightening the load and reducing the stress of business travel, Smith said now is the right time to take a strategic rather than reactive approach to business travel budgeting.
“Travel Management Companies (TMCs) are on the pulse of the travel industry. By joining forces with a company’s administrative team, a TMC can devise a monthly travel budget perfectly suited to an organisation’ s specific needs.
“Their extensive network and know-how can unlock global deals, allowing travellers to enjoy perks without the premium of business class flights,” she said.
She said it’s about letting the team enjoy their trips without blowing the budget, and the expertise TMCs bring to the table can also help recalibrate the company’s travel policy and help to set some ground rules.
Here are simple and easy ways to take some of the ‘grunt work’ out of business travel, according to Smith.
Special rates and perks
With global industry ties from a TMC like Corporate Traveller, travellers don’t need to hunt for the best deals. They automatically get competitive rates, plus perks like lounge access or upgrades.
24/7 support and safety
Travellers can skip the stress of problem-solving during hiccups. With round-the-clock support, any issue, big or small, gets addressed without the traveller having to handle it all.
Feedback and updates
A TMC will keep the company’s travel policy fresh so travellers always have a streamlined experience. Regular tweaks based on feedback mean travellers spend less time voicing concerns and more time enjoying seamless journeys.
Easy expense management
Thanks to tech and tools, travellers don’t have to dread the post-trip paperwork. Simplified expense tracking means less time documenting and more time focusing on the trip’s purpose.
Smith added that while all businesses need to have an eye on expenses, it’s equally important to provide teams with the necessary resources and flexibility when they’re on the road, since their success during these trips is directly linked to your overall success as an organisation.
“Overly tight travel rules can demotivate top performers. They need both freedom and the right tools to excel. Balancing costs with travellers’ genuine needs is the key to reaping the full return on investment of business travel,” said Smith.