Travel Business Business Travel Image by Alexa from PixabayResearch sponsored by corporate travel agency Travel Counsellors for Business and conducted by Censuswide has discovered that 60% of SMEs are planning to spend more on international travel. The findings were based on a survey of 1,000 UK-based SMEs that booked business trips between March 18th and 25th, 2024.

Not only are 37% planning to take more business trips over the next 12 months. 48% are also planning to extend business trips with leisure time as well. With this combination of purposes, it is little surprise that 57% confirm that they are deliberately implementing more sustainable travel.

This increased focus on sustainable travel is no surprise. With 40% of European companies looking to reduce their environmental impact, according to Deloitte’s 2023 corporate travel study. The combination of business and leisure is also not a new thing. “Bleisure”, according to Euromonitor, may rise to $360 billion by 2027.

On average, SMEs are extending their business travel by 2.46 days and 42% bring their partners or family on an overseas trip.

Kieran Hartwell, Managing Director of Travel Counsellors for Business (image credit - LinkedIn/Kieran Hartwell)
Kieran Hartwell, Managing Director of Travel Counsellors for Business

Kieran Hartwell, Managing Director of Travel Counsellors for Business, 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.”

Bleisure on the rise

Bleisure makes sense for business travellers looking to be both cost and environmentally aware. The individual no longer has to make four trips to a chosen destination, instead just two flights and associated transfers. This reduces their carbon footprint and also the personal cost that might have been associated with a separate leisure journey.

Over the next 12 months, UK SMEs are looking to travel to Europe (74%), followed by North America (28%) and the Middle East (19%). What the research did not clarify is whether these regions were more or less popular for additional leisure time. The travel time and cost might inhibit bringing additional family members to the US. However, with the time difference, the opportunity to sightsee might offset that.

As the survey and Deloitte notes, organisations are trying to build more sustainable practices in international travel. Respondents identified several changes:

  • Scheduling multiple meetings on the same trip to reduce flights (44%)
  • Choosing transport providers or hotels that prioritise sustainability (43%)
  • Booking direct flights instead of multi-leg options to help reduce carbon emissions (40%)

This last is interesting as it indicates that business travellers may put environment benefit over cost, with some direct flights costing more than indirect ones. It is interesting to see which has a higher priority for travellers and whether this has changed. Travel Counsellors for Business believes that each SME has different requirements.

Hartwell added, “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.”

How do business travellers book trips

47% of SMEs use a travel management company (TMC) rather than booking direct (one assumes). The main reason is that it saves the company time and offers greater flexibility. It also mitigates risk, as in the event of any issues, a TMC often provides access to 24/7 customer support/emergency assistance. This last point is seen by 28% as a benefit.

Joe Whittle, Sustainability and Impact Lead at Travel Counsellors for Business, 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.”

Enterprise Times: What Does this mean

There are some interesting statistics within this survey. However, The Travellers Counsellors for Business could have added more value by demonstrating trends from historical surveys. Perhaps next year it will be strengthened. With a sample of over a thousand respondents, this is not insignificant. However, much more could have been discovered had the data been analysed further.

Is there a market for US or European Business hotels to provide offers to tempt business travellers to stay longer at the end of a conference or stay? Do they make people aware of the reduced costs for adding guests to their business booking?

There also seems no qualitative element to this survey which might have added a few more insights. Notably, the priorities of business travellers are around sustainability, cost and time. Perhaps next time, The Travel Counsellors for Business will dive deeper into the data. Lastly, what does this mean for the travel industry? Will these travellers no longer take separate leisure trips abroad, or do these replace them?


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