The complete 2024 guide to business travel: what it is and what it means for companies09/10/2021
Business travel is a new concept of the so-called business trips and includes anything concerning the organisation of a working trip, from the economical aspect to the organizational-logistic one. Business trips represent a significant expense for either big or small companies that usually visit their clientes, sign new contracts, keep in touch with providers or keep up with the evolution of the sector through trade fairs, exhibitions, etc.
In this article we will observe all the facets of business travel in 2021, starting from the terms used to identify the different types of business trips, up to the skills and roles involved in the business travel management and aspects such as travel policy and etiquette.
Business travel, bleisure and business tourism
As new trends emerge,the concept of business travel is also changing and this needs to be recognised: for example, the possibility of making the boundary between private life and working life more flexible has given rise to forms of travel such as bleisure that combines the needs of business travel with spaces for leisure.
Let’s have a look at the most commonly used terms at the moment and their meaning:
In its strictest sense, ‘business travel’, also traditionally known in Italy as business travel or business tourism, is a journey undertaken for work or business reasons. It includes all trips aimed to develop new business relationships, attend conferences, congresses or trade shows & events and includes as well the so-called “incentive trips” also known as bonus trips for employees.
This is why the acronym MICE: Meetings, Incentives, Congresses and Exhibitions, is used to identify the sector internationally.
This is where, in addition to business, the concept of ‘leisure’ comes into play, merging to create ‘bleisure’: alongside work, there is also pleasure, so the employee is given space for leisure on his business trip. The concept of Bleisure differs from Business Travel because it involves extending the business trip by a weekend just to indulge in a bit of leisure, visit the city they are in, etc. It’s difficult to draw up a precise profile of the bleisure traveller, who can generally be described as a corporate traveller, mainly belonging to the Millennials category (i.e. those born between 80 and 95).
In turn, both differ from the concept of business tourism, as the latter refers precisely to temporary relocation for a period of less than a year where the person continues to do their job but at a distance, with the advantage of being able to enjoy their leisure time in a place other than the place of usual residence.
How to manage business travel
The evolution of business travel has given rise to a new management need, which is shared by several companies: the reduction of time and resources employed in the organisation of business trips. Many firms decide to rely on business travel management companies – real agencies or platforms, whose aim is to optimise all business travel activities.
What is travel management though? The term travel management refers to all those management activities involving organisation, booking and invoicing of a business trip.
Among such activities we can find:
- purchase of train or air plane tickets, hotel and car bookings
- controlling and invoicing travel expenses
- organisation of events (MICE – meeting, incentive, congress, exhibition)
- set up and control of travel policies
But let’s see who is in charge of travel management:
- travel agencies
- business travel management companies
- hotel and catering industry
- travel manager
- GDS (Global distribution system)
- self-booking systems suppliers
Many companies decide to rely on business travel agencies to optimise booking and billing times and costs. Large companies usually have an internal figure responsible for travel management: the travel manager. Their main task is to find the best ratio between costs’ reduction and best comfort for the traveller, sometimes through the setup of a company travel policy to ease the process.
Another aspect to take into account is safety: it is important to set up a risk management and travel safety system that can be ready for any eventuality. Informing travellers of the risks they may incur on certain journeys is essential, but relying on real time monitoring systems that send alerts or notifications can certainly be comforting and make travellers feel safe.
The Travel Policy
One of their tasks is to draw up a travel policy, that is the set of rules establishing the management of business trips such as:
- Flight, train or car rental reservations
- Expenditure rules, including lunches, dinners or entertainment
- Travel safety, both personal and company-related
- Payment methods
- Ensuring the safety of travellers on all their journeys
With the support of a business travel agency it is possible to set up a travel policy immediately and simplify the work of the travel manager, so there is no need to manually check that all conditions are met each time because they will already be set up automatically.
A more flexible concept of business travel implies the need to have an etiquette because travellers are those who represent the image of the company in their travels. Let’s have a look at some points:
Time is money. Nobody likes to waste time, which is why being on time, or better still early, is a very important requirement. Whether for a flight, a company lunch or a business meeting.
Respecting local cultures. When in Rome, do as the Romans do: even if we are used to behaving in a certain way, it is very important to know the local customs in order not to make a bad impression. For example, physical contact in some countries is not appreciated as much as it is in others.
Use common sense. Behaving good while eating, do not interrupt who’s talking, don’t dress too informal just because you’re in a warmer climate country are just some examples.
Using common sense and politeness is essential when travelling on business as you are not only representing yourself or the country you are from, but more importantly you are representing the company you are working for.
Sustainability. It is good to keep it in mind that during a travel you can put into practice a range of green behaviours like staying in sustainable hotels, using public transporto or walking, choosing direct flights, travelling in economy class, finding out about the airline sustainability, etc…
Travel policy. Your company will surely have a travel policy that clarifies any doubts you may have during your business trips. Make sure you understand it completely before you leave, so that you have the right awareness in case something unpleasant happens.
Respecting etiquette means enhancing your professionalism and that of your company.
What Bizaway can do for your business travel
Managing a company’s travel expenses means implementing an accurate organisation plan in order to monitor expenses and costs. Relying on a business travel agency to manage business travel can help your company simplify its work and save money.
BizAway simplifies your bookings with a 24/7 support, provides you with a platform where you can freely manage your trips, define policies and approval flows for your travel managers. You can have your expenses, refunds and/or bookings at hand. In addition to this, you can easily download monthly invoices including all your bookings.
We make business travel greener: thanks to the automatic calculator every user of our platform is aware of the environmental impact of each booking. During the booking process, the amount of carbon dioxide produced by that specific trip is indicated. Moreover, thanks to the calculation algorithms you can quantify the amount needed to compensate the pollution produced. Such compensation is made through the voluntary donation of few cents for the plantation of mangroves, a project carried on by Eden Reforestation Project. The mangrove was chosen for its extraordinary CO2 absorption capabilities. In fact, during its 25 years of life it can remove up to 308 kg of CO2, on an average of 12.3 kg per tree by year. (Find out how many mangroves BizAway has planted.)
The pandemic limited the travel sector in all its fields, including business travel. According to this article of Il Sole 24 Ore the upswing has starded in spring, however the experts think that in the coming months trips will still be restricted and towards close destinations due to the difficulties in organising last minute business trips in far destinations.
Simplify bookings, policies and billing of your business travel and save up to 20%.