Business travel is an integral part of doing business, allowing you to meet with clients, attend industry events, and conduct research in new markets.
However, a lack of proper planning can lead to wasted time and resources, resulting in less successful trips or at least leaving a lot of untapped potential on the side.
And you know what: research shows that companies who prioritize planning before booking can see a return on investment of up to 20% on business travel expenses.
Despite this, many travel technology tools currently on the market focus on quick booking and comparing prices and transportation options or expense management, rather than giving you the tools to invest in thoughtful planning.
Why Planning is the Most Critical Step for Business Travel
Effective planning is critical for maximizing the value of business trips.
By setting clear goals and objectives, companies can ensure that their employees focus on achieving specific outcomes, rather than wasting time and resources on unimportant activities.
Furthermore, a study by the National Business Travel Association (NBTA) found that companies that prioritize planning and strategy in their business travel programs see a 28% increase in overall trip productivity. (Source: The Productivity and Cost Savings Benefits of Business Travel” National Business Travel Association)
Despite thorough and prioritized planning is critical for the success of a trip, organizing these trips can be a nightmare, having to juggle between multiple tools, processes (or lack thereof) and internal communication loops to plan the best possible trip. Here’s a list we can think of, when we planned our trips over the years:
- Emails, Slack/Teams/etc. messages
- Your calendar, often playing tetris with calendar blockers or invites
- Reports from your CRM to see which contacts you can add to your list
- Calendly-like solutions to coordinate meeting times
- Spreadsheets for sure, especially if you’re going to a tradeshow with multiple teammates
- … and more
No wonder this takes so much time.
Actually, we asked travelers and this planning process takes most people we asked easily over 2 hours per trip…
Why Current tools and solutions in business travel don’t solve for better planning
Despite the importance of planning, many of the travel technology tools currently used by companies focus on booking and expense management, rather than providing the resources needed to plan effectively.
These tools often incentivize travelers to book as often and as quickly as possible, rather than taking the time to research and plan their trips properly.
As a result, many companies and individuals are missing out on the potential benefits of effective planning: having a more streamlined plan with more meetings and taking advantage of opportunities that arise with more purposeful travel.
We asked hundreds of people if they sometimes realize they should have planned their trip(s) more/better, and this is what we found:
Make purposeful travel part of your company’s policy
One of the most effective ways to ensure that planning is a priority for business travel is to incorporate it into your company’s travel policy.
This can be done by emphasizing the importance of researching and planning trips, rather than just booking them asap.
This can help to ensure that employees are focused on achieving specific goals and objectives, rather than wasting time and resources on trying to make sense of the chaos involved in planning their next trip (or simply not planning at all).
Employees should consider the purpose of the trip, whether it is necessary to achieve specific business goals and objectives, and if there are any alternatives to travel, such as virtual meetings. This not only helps to maximize the value of business travel, but also helps to reduce the carbon footprint.
In the past decades, travelers have not been incentivized to plan better but to book more and travel more frequently. But the travel industry is changing, especially in the area of business travel and it is time for a more thoughtful and purposeful approach that is more budget effective and efficient.
- Set clear goals and objectives for your business trips to ensure that your employees are focused on achieving specific outcomes
- Encourage your employees to take the time to properly research and plan their trips, rather than just booking as quickly as possible
- Remember the importance of planning in maximizing the value of business travel, and make it a priority in your company’s travel strategy.
- Use tools and resources that focus on planning and research (yes, we’re biased on this one, but for good reason!)