What is the return on investment for business travel?

16 Jul 2024 · 11
There are so many —meeting clients, attending conferences, running a booth at a trade show, working on an on-site project, or doing some fun team building activities at a company retreat.
For many companies, business travel is not just a “nice to have”, but an essential business activity. So it’s no surprise that the vast majority of business travel decision-makers say an increase in travel budgets leads to increased company revenue (64%) and profitability (59%), according to .
Read on for a deep dive into the return on investment (ROI) of business travel, and all the ways travel can increase revenue both directly and indirectly—from boosting employee engagement to acquiring new clients.
How is business travel helping companies go further? Download our free .

Key stats on the return on investment for business travel

  • 95% of C-suite leaders say they’d lose customers without in-person meetings. 
  • 76% of CEOs and 69% of CFOs agree that increasing travel budgets would positively impact their company’s revenue. 
  • Companies that increased their travel budgets to connect employees have a 29% lower employee turnover rate than companies that reduced their business travel spend. 
  • 94% of C-suite leaders have noticed higher engagement levels after employees participate in company social events.
  • 62% of CEOs expect their travel budgets to increase in 2024, compared to last year.

What benefits does corporate travel bring to a business?

The impact of travel on the bottom line

Nothing quite compares with a face-to-face meeting when it comes to landing new clients, and maintaining the clients you have. 91% of business travel decision makers claim they’d lose existing customers without in-person meetings, according to our .
Face-to-face meetings offer a personal touch that can’t be replicated online. They allow your sales staff to have an in-depth conversation with prospective clients, truly understand their needs, and demonstrate your product in a hands-on way. Sales staff can also maintain strong relationships with current clients and offer upsells where appropriate, so clients can get the most from your product or service.  It's far easier to build trust and negotiate terms when we can read each other's body language and other non-verbal cues.
Employees who travel for sales activities said that 30% of the sales revenue they drive would be lost without in-person meetings with clients and prospects.

Competing for top talent and retaining current employees

To remain competitive, companies are always thinking of how to attract new employees. Highly skilled and motivated employees produce great results, so it’s vital to hire the best talent available. Once you’ve found the right employees for your company, it’s also important to retain them. Replacing just one employee can cost from or more. 
Our travel data show that business travel can serve as an incentive for current and future employees—especially since business trips sometimes allow for “bleisure” travel, and may involve attending a retreat or other fun event. 75% of HR decision-makers said advertising business travel opportunities in job descriptions makes the role more attractive.
Business travel can also help reduce turnover. In 2023, companies that increased their travel budget had an employee turnover of just 8.6%, which is 3.5% lower than those who reduced their investment to connect employees. This is also below the 10% average turnover rate suggested by as a sign of a healthy organization.
C-suite leaders agree with the importance of business travel for reducing turnover. 62% think an increase in travel budgets would help with employee retention, while 94% observe a boost in employee engagement following their team’s travel to a company social event. 

Providing opportunities for employee professional development

Conferences are more popular than ever, with dozens of options to possibly attend in 2024, from to and summits. Our surveys revealed that 45% of companies are increasing their travel budgets so business travelers can attend more conferences and events. Conferences offer numerous opportunities for professional development and forming partnerships, such as seminars, workshops, and networking events. 
Internal networking at team building events is also important, particularly for younger workers. Mentoring is key for junior employees’ ongoing professional development, with 75% of corporate executives crediting their success to a mentor, . In The Value of Business Travel Report, 70% of Gen Z survey respondents say business travel can improve their networking skills, while 65% say it makes them more visible within their company.
Download TravelPerk's and learn how business travel can drive return on investment for companies and their people.

Improving collaboration for distributed teams

As we have already seen, business travel can serve various functions. Recently, there has been a steep rise in companies organizing events that encourage cross-team collaboration, like , retreats, and team-building activities.  
Many teams now work remotely or with a geographically distributed model, but in-person meetings continue to be crucial for learning, professional development, and incentives. In fact, company get-togethers are especially popular among remote teams that don’t get much facetime on a regular basis. Our data show that 85% of fully-remote employees have participated in company get-togethers of one night or more within the past year. This number falls to 78% of those who work in-office 1–2 days per week, 68% of employees who are in-office 3–4 days per week, and 69% of employees who are in the office full-time.
There’s no substitute for in-person relationship building and socializing. Meeting up with colleagues increases employee engagement and wellness—94% of C-suite leaders have noticed higher engagement levels after employees participate in company social events.
Bringing together geographically-distributed teams in an inspiring destination fulfills a range of business needs. Mixing key updates and in-person brainstorming sessions with a few in new surroundings can reinvigorate teams and bring innovative ideas to the fore.
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5 ways to maximize ROI from your corporate travel spending

Clearly, corporate travel offers many benefits, but most companies have a limited budget to spend on it. So how can companies get the best ROI from their business travel spending?

1. Streamline the travel booking process

Using the right business travel industry technology, CFOs, travel managers, and planners can simplify the entire corporate travel process, reducing travel costs and saving time.
The easiest way for businesses to make their travel programs more efficient is to speed up the booking process for cost savings. Rather than scrolling through several websites trying to find the lowest price, corporate travelers can use a travel management company or tool to gather every element of their itinerary into one easy-to-use dashboard.
With an industry-leading inventory, negotiates highly competitive rates including options with low-cost carriers to lower the cost of travel. As TravelPerk users assess their options they can choose confidently, knowing they’re getting a great deal.
Want to find out just how much money your company could save on business travel by using TravelPerk? Check out our .

2. Stay on top of travel spend with a clear travel policy

To save money and get the best ROI from business travel, you’ll need to make sure travelers can make informed decisions about what to book and how much they’re allowed to spend. The best way of doing this is by creating a . Travel policies reduce confusion and offer travelers some autonomy, while also offering companies control over travel spending and full visibility over budgets.
Once you’ve created your travel policy, it’s important to clearly communicate what it is and how it works. If employees can’t find your policy, don’t understand it, or aren’t given the opportunity to offer feedback, they’re less likely to follow the policy.
A great way to make sure employees follow your travel policy is to integrate . This way, the approval process is automated, and employees can easily book policy-compliant options. This will not only help you save budget, it’s also proven to improve employee satisfaction.
By inputting parameters from your corporate travel policy, a can instantly approve itineraries that fall within company budgets, while flagging those that require extra attention. This approach allows business travelers to select options that fit their individual needs, whether it's a hotel with onsite gym facilities or a flight in time to pick the kids up from school.  

3. Increase visibility around expenses

Without an efficient system for expense management, generating expense reports can drain travel managers' time and resources. By using a business travel management solution, you can analyze budget metrics by destination, department, and even individual employee. In seconds, you can glean real-time insights and ascertain the ROI of business travel by comparing travel spend with revenue generated. 
Travel management systems collate travel expenses from all providers into a single invoice, and also offer . These allow your company to save up to an additional 25% on your annual travel budget by supplying VAT-ready receipts and VAT calculations so you never leave money on the table. 
Explore TravelPerk’s , including advanced travel and expense dashboards.

4. Take fewer, longer trips and reduce the need for repeat visits

Our data show that business travelers want to extend their work trips for both personal and professional reasons. 44% of business travelers say they’ve extended work trips when their company policy allows them to do so. In addition, 41% of Gen Z employees say they’d like their company to allow them to extend trip time.
Reasons for extending trips include “bleisure” or blended travel, but also staying longer to combine more meetings into a single trip. Around one third (34%) of business travelers say their company encourages them to book in as many meetings as possible to avoid making multiple trips. Another option is incorporating multiple trip types into one, such as making a visit to a local office for an internal meeting after a company offsite. 
At TravelPerk, we’ve seen a decline in same-day return trips taken by plane. In 2019, 19% of short-haul flights (under two hours) booked on the TravelPerk platform were day-return trips. In 2023, . Instead, there's a growing trend toward two-to-four-day journeys: 43% of all short haul flight trips in 2019 were two to four days in duration, and this number has now risen to 58%.
This “slow travel” approach has quite a few benefits. It increases efficiency in the long term rather than the short term, making sure maximum value is derived from each trip. It increases traveler wellbeing and improves the travel experience by allowing more time for rest, which can improve productivity. It’s also more environmentally-friendly and reduces carbon emissions, leaving time for train travel and eco-friendly travel options to meet your sustainability goals. 

5. Choose flexible booking policies

Unexpected circumstances sometimes come up when traveling. Luckily, you can protect yourself against contingencies by opting for flexible booking policies. TravelPerk offers an efficient way to do this with . Customers using FlexiPerk enjoy a 40% average savings over traditional flexible fares. The way it works is that you pay a 10% fee on every trip you take. You can then book flights, hotels, car rentals, or transportation at any rate, and cancel any time for 80% of your money back, with just one click.
In 2023, 79% of business travelers were affected by travel disruptions, with 40% experiencing significant delays of more than one hour. An additional 24% had reservations canceled, according to . But with FlexiPerk, you’re covered for any eventuality. 
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Flexiperk: Change or modify any booking, anywhere, any time.

Business travel offers many benefits for companies, from increased sales to employee retention, professional development, stronger customer relationships, and increased productivity. As our shows, companies are eager to invest in business travel because of the strong ROI it brings.
If you’d like to see if TravelPerk's corporate travel management solution could help you increase the efficiency of your business trips,
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