The SME business travel sector is booming. Not only is it predicted to grow globally to nearly $1.8 trillion by 2027, 87% of travellers say that business travel is essential to achieving their business objectives.
Kieran Hartwell, Managing Director, Corporate at Travel Counsellors explains that business travel can be a lynchpin for SMEs to foster face-to-face connections with clients, partners, and stakeholders, facilitating relationship building and knowledge-sharing. At Travel Counsellors for Business, we have witnessed a remarkable surge, reaching a record high of £249m of corporate bookings last year, as SME clients are actively seeking service orientated partners to propel their growth.
Most importantly, business travel gives SMEs the competitive edge. SMEs have returned to their business travel activities quicker than their larger counterparts. Their smaller scale means they can be more agile, making them exempt from lengthy approval processes and compliance measures and policies. This flexibility enables SMEs to meet a broader spectrum of clients and enhances recruitment efforts by attracting talent eager to explore the world while working.
Many see travel as an integral part of the modern professional lifestyle – for SMEs it can make all the difference when scaling upwards. With that in mind, it’s worth thinking about how business travel is shaping up for the year ahead.
A recent study revealed that travellers – predominantly Gen Z and Millennials – are more inclined to consider the environmental impact of business travel compared to personal travel. To align with sustainability goals, businesses are under mounting pressure to adopt eco-friendly practices, including carbon footprint offset options.
Many SMEs are seeking a travel partner who can support their company sustainably policies and recognise the importance of responsible travel, supporting the people that live and work in the communities that travellers do business in too.
Blending travel and leisure (bleisure)
Combining tourism opportunities with business trips is increasingly on the rise. The Global Business Travel Association found that 62% of business travellers are more frequently blending business and personal travel trips, commonly known as “bleisure” travel. Specifically, 42% are including extra leisure days during their business trips, and 79% of these travellers are opting to stay at the same accommodation for both the business and vacation segments of their journey.
Travel Counsellors for Business is uniquely placed to support this growing trend due to our expertise in both business and leisure travel. With over 500 Travel Counsellors across the UK working on both disciplines we are a travel management company that can provide an all-in-one solution for SMEs.
Bespoke travel services
With more and more people working remotely, employees are placing greater emphasis on their well-being, and this trend continues when they are asked to travel for work. According to research conducted by Travelport, 35% of business travellers said that their biggest priority was having options that support well-being, productivity, and aid-recovery whilst they were travelling.
Embracing personalisation to each traveller is paramount to the modern travel experience – clients no longer want generic travel policies, they wish for individual needs to be addressed. Not only that, when travelling for business, people expect a seamless customer experience – if travel businesses can provide this, it will guarantee loyalty to the company and the travel programme.
Finding the right solution for your business
Collaborating with a travel management firm that blends technological solutions with exceptional customer service is critical for those SMEs that are focused on opening up more international business opportunities in 2024. Corporate travel management services – like Travel Counsellors for Business – offer substantial competitive benefits, including an unwavering focus on clients, working as an extension of an SME’s in-house team, offering cost savings and streamlined processes for both the travel booker and traveller, empowering SMEs to achieve long term growth objectives through facilitating the power of face-to-face conversations.
The landscape of international business travel is evolving, shaped by new technologies, increasing environmental awareness, and a renewed focus on maintaining a balance between work and personal life. However, the bottom line is that in 2024, SME corporates will – more than ever before – seek out business relationships across the globe that champion the human touch. A goal that can only be achieved with the help of a supportive travel partner by their side, every step of the way.