Business Travel: SMEs Look for Comfort on the Road; Travel Editor Lisa Piddington Reports on How Smaller Companies Are Seeing an Increase in Business Travel
Byline: Lisa Piddington
Despite the tough market conditions, growing businesses have proved resilient and seen an upsurge in business travel over the last 12 months, according to a survey from American Express One, the new dedicated business travel service for small and medium sized businesses.
More than half the companies surveyed say that their business travel has increased in the last year and 65 per cent predict a further increase in the year to come.
Niall Mackin, head of American Express One, says: 'It is clear that even during the months of tough trading we have seen this year, owners of growing business understand the need to travel in order to win and grow their businesses.'
The survey found that the majority of SMEs travel on business between every two and six months, with small business owners citing the top three reasons for travel as winning new business (50 per cent), networking at industry conferences and events (47 per cent), and maintaining and developing relationships with clients and business partners (44 per cent).
A surprising find was that small companies are not only increasing their travel but are also maintaining high standards of comfort while on the road.
Some 40 per cent say they spend on average pounds 200 per night for a middle range hotel and 42 per cent spend slightly less on accommodation, up to pounds 125 per night.
Only 11 per cent stay at budget hotels, paying up to pounds 75 per night.
This level of comfort also applies to SMEs and their air travel. While more than half (53 per cent) of small businesses say they had downgraded in the last year by using a budget 'no frills' airline, the majority (47 per cent) on average now spend up to pounds 350 on a return air ticket to a short haul European destination via a traditional airline carrier.
Nearly one fifth (16 per cent) spend as much as pounds 600 for a return ticket to Europe. Niall Mackin says: 'In this buyers market, business travellers have high expectations for standards of comfort. This is particularly true in regards to hotel accommodation.
'While business travellers look for value for money, they are not prepared to compromise on where they rest their heads after a long day of travelling and meetings.
'With regard to choosing an airline, nearly half of SMEs say that 'service levels' are the one aspect which would increase loyalty to a particular airline. Only a third are governed by cost and a nominal eight per cent are swayed by brand. …