Feb 8, 2013
Travel is good for your mind, body and business. That’s the message of a new marketing campaign from the U.S. Travel Association. The Travel Effect, which launched last month, caught my attention because it asserts that for every $1 invested in business travel by companies there is an average $12.50 in increased revenue and $3.80 in new profits.
The website cites a 2009 study, The Return on Investment of U.S. Business Travel by Oxford Economic USA. According to the study, there is a “robust and irrefutable relationship between a company’s investment in business travel—including internal meetings, trade shows, conferences, incentives, and sales—and its profitability.” If your CFO tries to trim your travel budget, this may be a good report to justify your overseas trips.
Based on what I’ve experienced at international trade shows, I can attest to the importance of travel when seeking to do business abroad. I participated in a number of trade events to recruit foreign biotechnology companies to Montgomery County many years ago when I worked for the county’s Department of Economic Development. At these shows, I witnessed upstart companies effectively muscle their way into their competitor’s client bases. It’s not hard to do because people at these shows often want to learn about what is happening in their industry are receptive to sales messages and willing to share business intelligence.
Plus, many trade shows feature festive events in the form of receptions and dinners that encouraged attendees to socialize and network. It’s hard not to bond with someone after sharing a glass of wine and the trials and tribulations of raising capital. Oftentimes, business contacts mingled closer to friendships.
After overseas visits, the majority of people with whom I interacted were receptive to my follow-up messages about the county, plus foreign-based decision makers would regularly call me for information about doing business in the U.S. I became a trusted resource to the companies I hoped to recruit. In the two years I worked in international economic development, these relationships helped me attract more than 200 new jobs that were created by the subsidiaries of European biotechnology firms.
Many U.S. small businesses have cut back their international travel in the past few years. I’ve always encouraged companies do the exact opposite — to increase their international exposure, particularly because of the slowdown on our domestic economy. Now, I have new support to back up my recommendations.
Does your business have a different rate of return on business travel? Are you documenting the results of your travel?