Buyers must equip travellers with greater flexibility and a wider range of tools to manage their trip, new research from American Express has found.
The study, analysing how business travel affects personal wellbeing, attitude to work and how it impacts business performance, found that 76 per cent of UK travellers believe “personal interactions” facilitated through trips make them more effective at work.
The study showed business travel is “personally fulfilling” and plays an important role in the jobs employees choose, with 15 per cent of those surveyed said the opportunity to travel is a key reason for doing their job. A further 47 per cent said travel is an enjoyable aspect of their job. Just 6 per cent said business travel has a significant negative impact.
It also found that travel is also a key factor in job satisfaction and carries status for employees. When asked by their employer to travel, respondents said that this was most likely to generate feelings of excitement (33%), feeling valued and proud (31%). Just 19 per cent feel stressed when asked to go on a business trip.
While travel can sometimes be disruptive for employees, 31% would be in favour of spending more time travelling each month.
From the perspective of professional enjoyment, over half welcome business travel as a way to achieve diversity in working life (58%), and 49% enjoy the ability meet with colleagues and clients face to face.
Across all four European markets surveyed in total, ‘active travellers’ who combine business with leisure activities such as sightseeing are most positive about business travel. 92 per cent say business travel helps them do their jobs more effectively (versus 84% of all respondents) and 59 per cent say it is an enjoyable aspect of my job (versus 47% of all respondents).
The study recommended employers need to pay attention to millennials (aged 18-34). The overall research – undertaken across four European countries – finds millennial business travellers are driving the rise of ‘work-life integration’ rather than work-life balance: 35 per cent of millennial business travellers want their company to allow the ability to add leisure onto business trips compared with 29 per cent of older travellers aged 35+. In addition, millennials are more likely to want employers to offer greater flexibility such as time in lieu in return for more business travel (38% vs. 30% of older travellers aged 35+).
Tony Crabbe, a business psychologist who analysed the findings of the survey, said: “We know from the overall research that those employees who go out sightseeing and who seek to experience the culture and city they visit, are more likely to also enjoy business travel, to see it as valuable in their role and be positive about doing more travel in the future. In the UK, we’re seeing travellers seize the opportunities business trips offer, with almost half experiencing the local culture in their free time.”
Jose Carvalho, senior VP, global commercial payments Europe, American Express, said: “The survey demonstrates that employees find business travel valuable for both job satisfaction and personal fulfilment, and even in today’s digital age, the personal connections built through face-to-face meetings continue to play a fundamental role in driving business performance.”