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How to Set Reasonable ROI Expectations for Business Travelers

Corporate travel is a proven way for many businesses to increase their profits. Whether you’re sending salespeople to close deals, representatives to tradeshows or executives to networking events, there’s always potential to achieve impressive return on investment.

In fact, a study from the U.S. Travel Association found that most companies earn around $12.50 in incremental revenue for every dollar spent on business travel. Companies that cut corporate travel programs altogether lost an average of 17 percent of their profits for the year. These numbers show just how valuable strategic trips can be.

However, some travel managers and financial executives may struggle to set ROI expectations for business trips, especially if the company’s travel program is just taking off. Therefore, it’s essential to set challenging, but attainable, expectations for road warriors if you want to put your company in a position to achieve its goals.

Consider the Purpose of the Trip
The first factor that should be taken into account when determining expected ROI for business travelers is the nature of the trip. The U.S. Travel Association noted that there are four main benefits that can be achieved from corporate travel:

  1. Retaining existing customers
  2. Converting prospective customers
  3. Networking with key individuals
  4. Investing in employees

Naturally, some of these benefits will be associated with higher and more apparent ROI than others. For example, a few key businesspeople traveling to visit an important client and upsell their current spend will likely result in high returns. On the other hand, sending a team to a training conference may have benefits in the long run, but it won’t result in clear, upfront ROI. The Travel Association’s report showed that, on average, customer meetings yielded an impressive $15 to $20 for every dollar spent, while conventions and trade shows resulted in around $4 to $6 in returns.

Account for the time travelers will need to get settled. Account for the time travelers will need to get settled.

Take Traveler Needs Into Account
It’s normal to expect employees to stay productive while they’re on the road, but when you’re considering what they should achieve, keep certain limitations in mind. Your workers may have six hours of downtime during a trip, but that doesn’t mean they’ll be able to work as they normally would. Traveling takes a toll both mentally and physically, so it’s necessary to give your road warriors time to recoup on their trips. They’ll need time to get through security, check into their hotels, scope out the destination and prepare for meetings, so take all these factors into account.

Additionally, it is important to discuss what extra tasks or projects you’d like travelers to complete while on the road, get managerial input on what’s feasible and adjust your ROI expectations accordingly.

“Travel policies play a key role in ROI.”

Review Company Travel Policies
Your company’s travel policies are going to be another key factor in determining returns from business trips. Concur reported that in 2012, the average cost of a dining transaction for an American corporate traveler was around $40. If your company allows workers to spend $150 on food expenses per diem, there’s definitely room for you to dial back costs and increase ROI. You can apply similar logic to hotel, airfare, ground transportation and entertainment costs as well. One notable way that companies can save on car services is to partner with GroundLink.

“Concur’s report showed that ground transportation was the fifth largest expense category in 2012 and that costs were on the rise,” said Dean Sivley, GroundLink’s CEO. “Companies can ensure that their corporate travelers are making smart choices when it comes to ground transportation by encouraging them to use GroundLink when they are traveling for business.”

With GroundLink, travelers are able to schedule a car to the airport or their hotel from their mobile phones and they’ll receive a confirmed price before booking. It’s just one step that travel managers can take toward increasing their companies’ bottom line.

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