Even with the European debt crisis consistently making headlines and worrying economists from one side of the pond to the other, business travelers seem to be making the best of a less than ideal situation: according to the Global Business Travel Association, business travelers are taking fewer trips, but making each of them count for more by maximizing productivity.
“We’re seeing road warriors taking fewer trips, but making the most of them, making more stops and spending more on the road,” said GBTA executive director Michael McCormick. “The productivity explosion is a huge factor and it’s being brought on by better travel management, better technology and making the most of their time on the road. In the past, a road warrior may make two trips rather than just spending an extra night, or three travelers would go out on a trip together, where now it’s fewer. This is a remarkable trend that we don’t see ceasing.”
Even with all the technological advances that make meeting face-to-face as easy as connecting through online services and web cams, business travelers tend to find that nothing quite replaces the in-person meeting. There is still something to be said about personal contact to help lay the groundwork for business-to-business partnerships. The need for this coupled with the slow economic recovery means corporations are pushing to get the most out of every travel & expense dollar.
As for the technology side of this increase in productivity, expense management software has been evolving along with the needs of its clients, taking on mobile forms and new functionality that is lessening the need for paperwork, simplifying expense management and increasing productivity time for travelers. Due to stricter regulations, smaller travel budgets and increased demand on existing resources, spend management is one of the top concerns for executives and managers looking to expand business while being careful not to overextend company finances. Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) has been filling this gap through rapid deployment, low costs and the ability to enable access to productivity-enhancing software solutions across an entire organization. The result is leaner, more efficient business, and employees gaining access to the tools they need to fulfill their roles with a minimum of downtime.
It’s tools such as these that are decreasing the amount of time business travelers are spending on non-revenue generating tasks. Less time spent accumulating information for that expense report means more time for those deal-sealing, face-to-face meetings. When you’re able to spend your trip focused on business instead of stockpiling receipts for rental cars and lunches, it puts a whole new spin on how productive business travel can be.