Business travel takes off again
This is shaping up to be the year for face-to-face business lunches and in-flight Wi-Fi.
Business travelers are ready to get back on the road, and the numbers prove it. In a recent study, more than 80% of respondents reported having at least one business trip planned in the next six months, which almost rivals pre-pandemic levels.
Despite travel inflation soaring as high as 20% and fewer available flights due to labor shortages, many businesses have decided that there are more reasons to get back on the road than not.
4 reasons to get back on the road
When deciding between the possibility of spending a day stranded in an airport and scheduling a virtual meeting from home, the effort of travel has to be worth the reward. If you’re considering whether or not to take a business trip, several benefits could make the travel cost and hassle worthwhile.
Eight in ten executives believe that business travel is essential to company operations.
- Meeting face-to-face
Although remote workplaces are here to stay, many companies are realizing the value of occasional in-person meetups. Gatherings can be prompted by a special occasion, like the arrival of a new CEO. Or they can be a recurring part of the schedule, such as quarterly all-staff meetings. Flying in team members from around the country can be expensive — and logistically complicated — but many companies find it’s worth the boost in employee engagement, camaraderie and collaboration.
- Building relationships with clients
Building virtual relationships has become an essential skill for business owners, cultivated over years of video calls and email chains. But there’s no question that some things get lost in translation. Showing up in person can help you deepen client relationships and build trust. It also sends a powerful message that you’re willing to literally go the extra mile.
- Expanding your network and customer base
When approached strategically, conferences and trade shows bring real benefits to your business. They can offer the chance to build partnerships, research competitors, continue professional development and expose your brand to new customers. If you’re still dipping your toes back into the world of large-scale business events, try starting with something local and scale from there.
- Finding inspiration
Inspiration is all around, but sometimes you need to shake up your routine to find it. A trip can inspire your next big idea and help you see opportunities with fresh eyes. Whether your dream is to browse textiles in Guatemala, tour New York City galleries or send your restaurant staff on a global dining extravaganza, you never know when an inspirational trip could become an incredible investment.
Tips for smooth sailing
Whether you’re a frequent flyer or it’s your first trip in years, the following tips can help you be prepared for post-pandemic business travel.
- Consider flexible bookings
Refunds or exchanges for an unused airline ticket are no longer a given, however some airlines may offer the service as no hassle for a higher fee. Though every airline is different, many base-rate tickets don’t provide any sort of refund or credit if your plans change. Flexible bookings often cost more — sometimes hundreds of dollars — but can provide peace of mind in case you need to reschedule or cancel.
Whether the extra money is worth it depends on your circumstances. Are you flying a short distance to meet a client with whom you could easily reschedule? A flexible ticket might not be worth the cost. But if you’re going across the country for a four-day conference, a refundable ticket could help you recoup the costs if you can’t go. Measure your own level of risk tolerance, and read the fine print before you book.
- Prepare for longer wait times
As the airline industry continues to experience staffing shortages, travelers have come to expect delays. Turn late flights or extended layovers into a productive airport working session by packing your laptop, charger and headphones in your carry-on.
You might also find yourself waiting longer than usual to get through security. Avoid a last-minute rush to your gate by enrolling in TSA PreCheck® or Global Entry. Some business travel credit cards will even help cover the costs of joining.
- Stay on top of your expenses
Between tickets, hotels, meals and rental cars, travel costs can add up fast. Keep track of your spending and receipts — you’ll thank yourself come tax season. If your employees are traveling for business, set a budget and give them clear guidelines for their per diem expenses.
One of the easiest ways to track your business spending is to use a dedicated business credit card. This can help you streamline your accounting and keep personal purchases separate. Another useful travel tool is mobile banking. Apps like Chase Mobile® can help you monitor your accounts, stay on top of alerts and make payments while you’re on the road.
- Consider hiring a travel agent
In the age of do-it-yourself travel booking, hiring a travel agent might seem outdated. But the benefits of a good agent could be sky-high, especially if your business requires frequent travel. In addition to carrying out all the logistical and administrative sides of planning a trip, an agent can provide support when plans change, process travel expenses and help negotiate discounts.
- Use travel rewards points
Credit card points can help you travel for less. Many business travel cards let you earn points for every purchase, with extra points in certain categories like dining and gas stations. Then you can book airfare, hotels or rental cars with the points you’ve earned. If you have a specific trip in mind, look for a card with a sign-up bonus to get the most bang for your buck.
With the right card, the sky’s the limit
The right business credit card can help you make the most of your trip. Perks like a free checked bag, priority boarding and complimentary in-flight Wi-Fi can make all the difference between a trip running smoothly or causing headaches, while benefits like mileage plans, cash back and travel credits can help you enjoy your trip even more.
If you’re not already using a business travel card, consider applying to reap the benefits. Learn more about Chase’s suite of business credit cards. Or speak with a Chase business banker to help you find one to meet your needs.