UK businesses plan to boost business travel spend by 50% or more

UK businesses plan to invest more in business travel over the next 12 months, reflecting the importance of business travel to their continued success, according to new research by American Express.

The research,1 which surveyed both business travellers and decision makers, found that around four in ten businesses are looking to increase the amount of business travel they undertake, while over two-thirds plan to ramp up their spending in this area by 50% or more compared to current levels.

The vast majority confirmed that business travel plays a key role in driving revenue, profitability and enabling growth; six in 10 businesses plan to expand into new UK regions while over a third want to enter new international markets.

Over three-quarters of respondent companies reported that their business suffered due to the limited ability to travel during the past two years. Travel is seen as valuable in connecting remote teams; almost three-quarters state this is a key reason for business travel and a fifth say they are doing more trips to bring teams together. Business travellers themselves are on the same page as their employers, as 70% believe face-to-face meetings are essential in achieving their business objectives.

As business travel continues to bounce back, companies are thinking differently about their policies and priorities in this area: The rise of ‘bleisure’ – a combination of business travel and leisure – means one in three employees can bring their partner or a family member on work trips for little or no extra cost; and 79% of businesses state they have increased their focus on employee wellbeing when travelling.

Hana Lear, Vice President, Corporate, UK Card Services at American Express, said: “Businesses had no choice but to press pause on a lot of travel over the last two years and lean on virtual alternatives to build relationships with customers and colleagues. Our research shows that business travel and the value of in-person connections in driving growth go hand in hand.

“However, there’s clearly a renewed focus on the entire business travel experience to ensure both companies and employees maximise the value of trips. Our focus is on meeting the needs of companies of all sizes as these strategies evolve – whether that’s through our Business Cards that make travel expenses more rewarding or our suite of account management tools offering key insights and reports.”

The perspective of business travellers

· The research also found that while travellers enjoy business travel, they have elevated expectations of their employers: 71% say they would leave their role if their employer didn’t prioritise their wellbeing during their trips

· A sizable proportion of business travellers state they prefer when they can blend business travel with leisure time; and companies are responding to this demand, with 43% of businesses stating they are finding new ways to help employees enjoy ‘bleisure’

· Yet despite increased investment in this area, 62% of travellers think there is more their employer can do to make trips easy, productive, and fuss-free for their teams. Almost three-quarters of travellers agree that perks such as flying business class and getting access to lounges allow them to be more productive on their trips

· One third (31%) of businesses affirm they’d like their business travel to be ‘greener’ but aren’t sure how to achieve this. Meanwhile, sustainability is increasingly front of mind for travellers; seven in ten worry about the environmental impact of their trips and over three quarters (78%) state they are more conscious of their carbon footprint when travelling than previously.

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UK businesses plan to boost business travel spend by 50% or more