Why business travel will be the focus for CFO’s in 2020

2020 is here at last, with plenty of excitement, changes and development in store for business owners.

Specifically, for Chief Financial Officers (CFOs), the coming year will also see an increased focus on business travel too.

It can be no surprise really. With the UK business travel market estimated at £39bn in value, and growing by 3.7 per cent annually, it plays a huge role in the daily finances of a company. As such, CFOs have become increasingly involved in this side of the operation.

But that’s not all. Corporate travel is such a fundamental part of our working lives, that its impact has even greater reach. From networking to wellbeing, as well as bringing in business, there’s a number of reasons why corporate travel has never been more important.

For those that are forward-thinking enough to recognise the value of corporate travel, here’s why it will play such an important role for CFOS right now:

Important for New Business

We already know that face-to-face contact is vital for building relationships with suppliers and potential clients. As businesses continue to scale up, more emphasis will be placed on business travel for bringing in new business.

The role of the CFO has evolved, to not only overview spend, but to bring in revenue too. Building relationships and networking is crucial to this, all made possible through corporate travel.

Already we’re seeing an explosion in networking events, summits and conferences, with record-breaking attendance. To highlight this, last year 10,000 professionals attended Dublin’s Tech Summit, 30,000 visited America’s Collision Conference, and 8,800 industry professionals attended the Business Travel Show in London.

Going Greener

Sustainable travel is no longer a buzzword, it’s a genuine business necessity. With corporates and governments under pressure to address climate change, it’s only right that this receives greater focus. It’s also a concern amongst travellers, with 87 per cent wanting to travel sustainably, now and in the future.

CFOs will be forced to look for smarter transport methods, without cutting back on travel itself. This is likely in the form of promoting train travel over flying, and sharing taxi and car journeys where possible. And employees are ready for this change. When questioned, 40 per cent of business travellers agreed that using ‘sharing economy’ suppliers could be an important savings strategy.

The ‘B’ Word

With the uncertainty of Brexit looming, British business travelers are poised for changes afoot. This may require the addition of visas and driving documents, along with a review in corporate travel policies. With this being a moveable feast, it’s something that all CFOs will need to keep abreast of in the coming months.

Travel Expense Management

In the UK, business travel spend is calculated at $50 billion annually. Of this, it’s estimated that companies spend 10 percent or more of their annual expenditure on travel expenses.

Without compromising on travel, CFOs can play their part in having a robust corporate travel guide that outlines travel expenses and encourages employees to make smarter choices. This is already happening, with nearly half of all ‘road warriors’ eating in less expensive restaurants and just under a third (28 per cent), changing travel dates to secure better rates. Expect to see more travel-savvy choices like this promoted by CFOs in the future.

Business Booking Platforms

Currently only 63 per cent of employees use a workforce travel booking tool. This is one of the most efficient ways for streamlining business costs.

It can offer employers economical savings, better rates, and prevent avoidable charges that come with cancelling trips at the last-minute. With business travellers more likely than any other kind to make itinerary changes, it’s advisable for every business to invest in a travel booking platfrom.

But that alone isn’t enough. Employees need to be educated on how to use systems and to understand the benefits in doing so. Therefore, CFOs will need to continue to work with HR and internal communications to promote corporate travel booking processes as a top priority. 

Workplace Wellbeing

And finally, although CFOs are mainly focused on the bottom line, with a rise in workplace wellbeing issues, and its link to absenteeism, it’s an issue that can no longer be ignored.

Whether it’s considered a perk of the job or not, work travel can take its toll on employee wellbeing. The combination of jetlag, long and unsocial working hours, disrupted journeys, poor sleep and being away from home, can all take their toll on individuals.

This is especially true of the most frequent of business travellers. Recent research has shown that people who travel for business two or more weeks a month, have higher incidence of anxiety and depression, as well as sleeping challenges to deal with.

At a time when employee wellbeing is high on the agenda, CFOs will need to address the work-life balance, putting employee welfare before profit.

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