Our survey reveals over half of SMEs are planning to spend more on overseas travel in the next year

Our survey reveals over half of SMEs are planning to spend more on overseas travel in the next year

Corporate travel spend in the UK is projected to increase in the next 12 months, with over half (60%) of SMEs planning to spend more on business travel overseas than they did last year, according to our Travel Trends Report. 

The top destinations for SME business travel in the next 12 months are Europe (74%), followed by North America (28%), and the Middle East (19%).  

The power of the personal touch 

In the survey of over 1,000 UK SMEs, nearly half (48%) cited meeting clients, customers, and prospects in person as the main reason for their overseas trip. The top three benefits of such face-to-face interactions were enhanced collaboration (42%), stronger customer/client relationships (41%), and increased sales/revenue (38%), indicating the competitive advantages associated with in-person engagement.  

Mixing work with play  

‘Bleisure’ – combining work trips with leisure activities – is now a mainstay of SME travel, with nearly half (48%) of respondents extending the length of their business trip with leisure activity at the end. On average, SMEs extend their business trips by 2.46 days, showing a desire to unwind and explore a destination once their work commitments are over. Furthermore, over two-fifths (42%) of respondents bring their partners or family members on an overseas trip, mixing their professional and personal lives while away on business.  

Focus on sustainability  

With SMEs expecting to both travel and spend more, the research suggests sustainability is a growing consideration in setting travel policies and purchasing decisions. Over half (57%) of respondents say their business is taking steps to implement more sustainable business travel.  These include scheduling multiple meetings during the same trip where possible to reduce the number of flights taken (44%), choosing transport providers or hotels that prioritise sustainability (43%), and booking direct flights instead of multi-leg options to help reduce carbon emissions (40%). 

Joe Whittle, Sustainability and Impact Lead at Travel Counsellors, 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 the Global Sustainable Tourism Council recognises to help our clients choose more sustainable accommodation options.”  

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. 

Our difference  

At Travel Counsellors for Business, we focus 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. “ 

When it comes to planning and booking overseas business trips, nearly half (47%) of SMEs use a travel management company (TMC). Nearly a third (31%) cited saving company time as the biggest benefit of working with a TMC, followed by greater flexibility (31%), and access to 24/7 customer support/emergency assistance (28%). 

Is your company planning more international travel this year? Let Travel Counsellors for Business take care of you and your trip – giving you more time to focus on what matters. Get in touch today to find out how we can help you take the stress out of business travel.  

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