The link between business travel investment and the bottom line – and the benefits

6 min read

30 May 2016

Travelling on business is often not thought of as an investment. It’s certainly a cost in terms of time and capital expense, but how to do it efficiently and with the appropriate outlay is a headache. Or is it?

Recent Oxford Economics research makes a striking point that can’t be ignored – the average international business travel air trip triggers a £34,000 contribution to GDP.

The report, “The Value of International Business Travel” was commissioned by the GTMC, the industry body for the travel management sector. Members are made up of professional Travel Management Companies (TMCs) who work on behalf of companies to advise on travel strategies and book smarter – a little like an expert travel agent for businesses.

For any business, whatever the scale, the planning and booking of a simple trip can end up costing precious time and money. No one would disagree that a business leader spending time booking travel is not the best use of their time.

A TMC takes this away, but also ensures that duty of care responsibilities are met by employers and that travel is delivered on budget. They are a business consultant who can help you go faster, and reduce the financial outlay.

Private jet firm founded by ex-fighter pilot wins $8m investment

Throughout the research is a clear link between business travel and economic prosperity. Staggeringly, the findings show that if business travel returns to pre-financial crisis levels within the next five years, then £6.5bn will be added to the value of UK trade.

If international air business travel volumes continue on the upward trajectory that they have enjoyed since 2010, then the return to the wider UK economy would be very significant.

The report went further and looked at what the estimated value of business travel is to imports and exports, and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). An increase in business travel of one per cent grows FDI by 0.3 per cent, the equivalent of providing a £100m boost to investment.

A return to pre-crisis levels of business travel could grow inward FDI by £1.6bn – an amount that equates to five per cent of the total FDI in 2012.

The lavish first class suites that airlines have to offer

Business air travel boosts trade – a one per cent increase in total business travel volumes will boost trade by around £400m, or 0.05 per cent. Plus, business air travel plays a greater role in driving exports than imports – a one per cent increase in business travel increases exports by 0.05 per cent, and imports by 0.03 per cent, around £160m and £125m respectively. 

Perhaps most powerful, there is strong evidence that greater trade and FDI provide a boost to productivity. The extra trade and FDI generated from a one per cent increase in international air business travel would boost productivity and increase UK GDP by £390m. 

The numbers are impressive and wholeheartedly outline the direct correlation between business travel and imports, exports, foreign direct investment (FDI) and productivity.

For any business leader looking at allocating business development budgets – travel is not an area to reduce.

But how can businesses make the most of these opportunities and can using a TMC help? Find out on the next page.

Image: Shutterstock

Account management

Making sure your account management team at the TMC is properly deployed is key to the long term success. The level of engagement and strategic development needs to be tailored to the culture, objectives, maturity and organisational structure of a company to ensure that a range of benefits are achieved. This includes budget maximisation, traveller satisfaction and duty of care.

The best deals

TMCs can negotiate the best deals and schedules whilst planning a trip that allows employees to be both as productive and comfortable as possible. Travellers will be provided with the best connectivity, productivity or even rest. It’s important you buy travel that is appropriate to your needs, and that it facilitates the business objectives of any given trip.

Support and duty of care

Support whilst travelling on business is vital in an uncertain landscape of political unrest, global health scares and natural disasters, including in destinations usually presumed safe. It is important to have adequate risk assessment.

A TMC will ensure that those on business travel trips have a global support network, 24 hours a day, from healthcare to security provisions if necessary. In the event of anything happening that affects travel or is a risk to travel, a TMC can track and report on the whereabouts of travellers and make provisions to return them to safer place.


TMC’s assess and deploy a range of technological options to deliver the most appropriate result for a business. Digital solutions now pervade every aspect of our lives and perhaps during ‘transit’ our expectations will be highest. Your travel management needs to reflect all other aspects of your commercial life.

Paul Wait is chief executive at GTMC, an organisation whose members account for over 80 per cent of the business travel spend in the UK.

With business travel in mind, meet the companies that were sunk by TripAdvisor reviews.