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New survey reveals over half of SMEs planning to spend more on overseas travel in the next year

New survey reveals over half of SMEs planning to spend more on overseas travel in the next year

New research finds that corporate travel spend in the UK is projected to increase in the next 12 months, with over half of SMEs planning to spend more on business travel overseas than they did last year.

The survey found that nearly half of those questioned cited meeting clients, customers and prospects in person as the main reason for their overseas trip. The top three benefits of such face-to-face interactions were enhanced collaboration, stronger customer/client relationships and increased sales/revenue, indicating the competitive advantages associated with in-person engagement.

The top destinations for SME business travel in the next 12 months are Europe, followed by North America and the Middle East.

‘Bleisure’ – combining work trips with leisure activities – is now a mainstay of SME travel, with nearly half of respondents extending the length of their business trip with leisure activity at the end. On average, SMEs extend their business trips by 2.46 days, showing a desire to unwind and explore a destination once their work commitments are over. Furthermore, over two fifths of respondents bring their partners or family members on an overseas trip, mixing their professional and personal lives while away on business.

With SMEs expecting to both travel and spend more, the research suggests sustainability is a growing consideration in setting travel policies and purchasing decisions. Over half of respondents say their business is taking steps to implement more sustainable business travel.  These include scheduling multiple meetings in the same trip where possible to reduce the number of flights taken, choosing transport providers or hotels that prioritise sustainability, and booking direct flights instead of multi-leg options to help reduce carbon emissions.

Kieran Hartwell, Managing Director of Travel Counsellors for Business, who commissioned the research, commented: “Our research shows that despite economic pressures, UK SMEs are planning to spend more on their overseas travel, underscoring the power and value of face-to-face connections and business relationships that champion the human touch at the very heart. Additionally, with increased flexibility around work schedules, it’s easy to see the appeal of a part work, part fun ‘bleisure’ trip and we are uniquely placed to support this trend, leveraging our expertise in both business and leisure travel, with over 500 Travel Counsellors working on both disciplines to deliver an all-in-one travel solution.

At Travel Counsellors for Business, our focus is on building personal relationships and redefining what care means in business travel by providing our SME clients with a highly tailored and concierge like service. “

When it comes to planning and booking overseas business trips, nearly half of SMEs use a travel management company (TMC).  Nearly a third cited saving company time as the biggest benefit of working with a TMC, followed by greater flexibility, and access to 24/7 customer support/emergency assistance.

Joe Whittle, Sustainability and Impact Lead at Travel Counsellors, said: “In order to help our clients travel more sustainably, we’re making sure that they have the data available to make lower carbon choices. From carbon estimates at the point of quotation on flights, through to in depth post-travel carbon reporting powered by Thrust Carbon; where clients want to travel with reduced emissions, we’re ensuring they have the data and expertise, from their Travel Counsellor, to do so. On top of this, we’re also using our Green Leaf label to flag where hotels have sustainability accreditations that are recognised by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council to help our clients choose more sustainable accommodation options.”

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New survey reveals over half of SMEs planning to spend more on overseas travel in the next year