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Stat: Business Travel's ROI

December 4, 2014

CWT Solutions Group, the consulting arm of Carlson Wagonlit Travel, has released its latest research into the return on investment of business travel.

The value of business travel: The travelers’ perspective’ surveyed 10,000 traveler respondents to determine how travelers view the ROI of a trip, and to offer guidance on reducing the number of unsatisfactory business trips.

Travelers were asked to measure the success of their last trip, with 88 percent of all trips scoring successful. Meanwhile, 9.5 percent of trips were seen as average, with no significant benefit compared to cost, and 2.5 percent of trips were deemed unsatisfactory.

Those who scored a trip as most unsatisfactory were asked if they had anticipated this, with 68 percent agreeing they had. The answers show that low success is, in most cases, anticipated prior to the trip.

When low-success trips are investigated, common patterns do emerge. When a meeting is unsuccessful, it is mainly due to a lack of preparation (40 percent) or a lack of a clear agenda (16 percent). Some of the main factors related to trip failure are: The number of meetings taking place during the trip; the total time spent in meetings; and advance booking.

What Causes Business Trips to Fail?

If the return on a given trip is the sum of the returns of the meetings which took place during that trip, then more meetings will generate more value and implicitly fewer failed trips. A trip with only one meeting produces an unsatisfactory result 19 percent of the time. This is reduced by a factor of 2 when the number of meetings increases to 6 or more. As a rule-of-thumb, every additional meeting reduces the probability of an unsuccessful trip by about 10 percent.

Related to the number of meetings is the time spent in meetings during the trip. In 38 percent of the unsuccessful trips, the cumulative meeting time was four hours or less. When the cumulative meeting time is one hour or less, the probability of an unsuccessful trip is 28 percent. This probability is reduced to 8% when meetings take up a total of two days or more.

Action Plans

To mitigate the risk of an unsuccessful trip, the report suggests the following tactics:

  • Arrange more meetings per trip – a trip with only one meeting produces an unsuccessful result 19 percent of the time. As a rule of thumb, each additional meeting reduces the likelihood of an unsuccessful trip by about 10 percent.
  • Allow plenty of time for meetings – when cumulative meeting time per trip is less than one hour, the probability of an unsuccessful trip is 28 percent. This is reduced to 8 percent when meetings take up two or more days.
  • Plan and book early – the longer in advance a trip is planned, the less likely it is to fail. Early planning allows travelers enough time to book their trips and arrange their meetings. CWT’s research shows a trip booked less than three days in advance runs a 21 percent risk of being unsuccessful, while those trips booked more than two weeks in advance have an 11 percent chance of being deemed unsatisfactory.

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