NEW YORK, NY – September 20, 2023 – American Express Global Business Travel (Amex GBT), the world’s leading B2B travel platform, and Harvard Business Review Analytic Services, today released a new report called Investing in Travel to Drive Business Growth: A Strategy for Thriving in Disruption. The work is based on a survey of 425 business respondents around the world.* (link to methodology in notes).
Business travel gives companies a valuable return in today’s hybrid world, with most respondents reporting that meeting in person enables dealmaking, company culture and innovation. They recognized attributes that make corporate travel programs effective, while also identifying gaps and areas to improve.
84% agree their organizations realize tangible business value from trips to meet with clients or prospects in person. The majority of respondents also say face-to-face meetings create stronger relationships with customers and are the best meeting method to make sales and initiate discussions with M&A targets.
88% say in-person interactions are critical for ensuring positive, long-term relationships between coworkers. Business travel is a key lever for bringing people together – especially now as teams are more dispersed with organizations embracing hybrid and remote working. Just 7% say their workplace model is completely office based today.
81% agree that in-person interactions foster greater levels of innovation. Seven in 10 say in-person meetings are the best way to facilitate brainstorming.
Colleen Kearney, Global Corporate Travel Leader at US-headquartered aerospace and defense company RTX, says business travel is more important now than it was pre-pandemic. “The results from returning to business travel have been clear. We’re finally getting together with no limitations. You’re just more invested and able to create more opportunities and come up with new ideas because you’ve created personal connections.”
MIND THE GAPS
Decision-makers clearly understand the hallmarks of effectively managed business travel, including the need for adequate funding, strategic alignment, and support from executive leadership. However, in practice, the survey found significant gaps between the importance of these ideals and the reality.
|The ideal: percent citing attribute as “very important” for a travel program to support the organization||The reality: percent citing their travel program has this to a “great extent”||The gap|
|Adequately funded||78%||33%||45 pts|
|Aligned with overall business strategy||80%||44%||36 pts|
|Supported by executive leadership||82%
Amex GBT President Andrew Crawley said: “The survey findings show strong awareness of business travel’s critical role in connecting people, driving growth and supporting success. Travel is also inherently more complex in a landscape of disruption, making the value of managed business travel more evident than ever. While many companies understand business travel is a strategic investment, it is also clear they see scope for enhancing the value and effectiveness of their travel programs.”
Alex Clemente, Managing Director of Analytic Services at Harvard Business Review, said: “While there is a return to business travel, this report demonstrates the dangers in not maintaining face-to-face relationships with customers, workers, and business partners. Collaboration, innovation, and relationships suffer.”