Better a good handshake or a look in the eyes to close a commercial transaction than an email. And that starts to get better and better in companies. Not in vain is one of the reasons that explain the growth of business travel, a sector that is in full bonanza.El business travel is also undergoing a profound transformation towards more personalized trips that meet the needs of a hyperconnected traveler , who wants flexibility, greater well-being, to conciliate and who also seeks to enjoy leisure when working outside his home.
The investment of Spanish companies in corporate travel will grow 7% this year compared to 2017, at the level of countries like the United Kingdom and exceeding more than double the average expected in Europe, which will be at 3.4%. These are the forecasts of the European Business Travel Barometer 2018, prepared by American Express Global Business Travel. The study shows that already in 2017, companies paid 3.1% more for this concept than the previous year.
There are underlying reasons that explain the good progress of the sector. The internationalization of companies has revived corporate travel. «To get out of the crisis, Spain has relied heavily on exports. And to export the company has to travel. The motivation of the trip is commercial both inside and outside the country. And this affects SMEs and large companies, "says Luis Dupuy de Lôme, CEO of American Express Global Business Travel Spain. Ignacio Camell, Personal Accident South Europe Group Manager of AIG Europe, assures that in the years of crisis, the export has facilitated the survival of numerous Spanish companies. "Even today, many SMEs go out not as a natural form of expansion, but as the only way to survive. This has caused a considerable increase of workers moving around the world, "he says.
Business trips are mainly to retain customers, seduce new ones, close contracts, present new products, create new business … What is also known as meeting tourism, which also includes incentive trips and to attend congresses , events and exhibitions. MICE by its acronym in English. "No one sells on the phone or on Skype. To sell and establish business relationships, you have to establish personal relationships and the face-to-face component is essential, "says Dupuy de Lôme. For this reason, technologies such as videoconferencing have not been able to replace the necessary face to face in business. In any case, it is usually only used for small format internal meetings.
For what it has been very useful technology and digitalization is to have permanently connected and safe to the traveler, one of the biggest concerns of the companies. Now the priority is safety, even more than saving on the trip. With the crisis the companies learned not to waste. "Nobody travels in business for domestic flights, it's something that is only used for long distance journeys," says Dupuy de Lôme.
Thanks to the technologies the traveler is hyperconnected, is located at all times, in the event of an emergency or any incident that occurs during the trip. «In business travel we adapt so that the attention is more comfortable and accessible to the client, we look for that every time you can make any management from an App on the smartphone, from locating a hospital, contacting an operator or receiving all kinds of alerts travel, sanitary, security, reports of the country of destination … », says Camell.
In search of well-being
And it is that to try "the well-being of the traveler is a tendency: that is comfortable, that is not overwhelmed, nor is burned. When you spend many hours flying and in airports, a two-hour stopover in a VIP room can make a difference. The company has to assess how much it is worth the escape of a manager who is traveling all day, "says Julio Burriel, CEO of the Iberian Association of Business Travel (IBTA).
In fact, in professions and positions where the company's travel policy is a strategy that can attract and retain talent. "The paid package includes the conditions in which you are going to travel; it is something that companies take care of, for example, for consultants, auditors, managers, commercial … who spend half their life traveling," says Dupuy de Lôme.
New forms are extended in this sector as incentive trips to reward the good results of the best employees. This is done very well by insurers with the brokers and external agents they reward. And the cars that sell through dealers. For example, they reward them with two trips per year where work and leisure are combined to achieve the best sales, "says Dupuy de Lôme. Even these trips become interesting life experiences related to corporate social responsibility. "We have a company," he says, "that has taken its financial advisers to Cambodia to help build a school."
It is another trend that has come to stay: the «bleisure travel», combining work and leisure. "There are many Millennian executives who have been the first to take advantage of the possibility of also enjoying leisure after several days of work. They stay the weekend with special rates to know the place of destination, which they pay out of pocket. Undoubtedly bleisure is fashionable and growing, "says Martí Sarrate, president of the Corporate Association of Specialized Travel Agencies (Acave).
The future presents itself with several challenges for this sector such as incorporating the services of the collaborative economy, something in which companies already think. Burriel account that, in five or ten years, will also pay attention to seek increasingly green trips. «How much CO2 has the trip emitted? It will be a decisive factor when choosing an airline or another, hotels with green certificates, green taxis … ", he concludes.
The duty of care
An employee can not travel for work reasons without insurance to support their transfer. "A company is responsible for the traveler from the time he leaves his house until he returns to it," says Julio Burriel, from IBTA. The company "has a duty of protection, a duty that legally obliges, both by action and by omission, to act with prudence and vigilance in order to avoid any foreseeable risk," explains Ignacio Camell, of AIGEurope. Hence, the policies begin to offer a wide coverage to attend incidents of which no one is free when he is away from home. From the loss of luggage, medical assistance and repatriation to all the information, warnings and alerts of the country of destination, Camell account.