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25 March 2013 | Anna Reynolds
Nearly half - 48 per cent - of UK businesses have increased their business travel compared to three years ago, according to research.
The report Business on the move, published by the Economist Intelligence Unit and commissioned by American Express, was based on the responses of 318 European executives. The survey, carried out in December 2012, found 93 per cent of executives believe business travel is critical to company profitability and 89 per cent think travel boosts sales.
Further, nine out of 10 companies believed that travel is important in retaining customers in the current economic climate. In the UK, 91 per cent of executives travel once a month and 48 per cent travel weekly.
Western Europe was the most popular destination, selected by 39 per cent of travellers, while 7 per cent of executives cited China, which was an increase from zero three years ago. This figure is also expected to rise over the coming years as UK companies reported that getting internal approval for travel to developing markets is easier than for developed markets.
The top reason for travel was customer acquisition and retention, followed by the need to gain an understanding of the new markets companies want to target (87 per cent).
Karen Penney, vice president of global corporate payments at American Express, said: “UK companies have identified business travel as an important catalyst for economic growth. Clearly the globalisation of the economy has led companies to prioritise business travel to gain new business. However, the research shows companies will be placing a strategic emphasis on their travel programmes, with a focus on holding down costs to maximise their return on investment.”
The research also showed 81 per cent of executives felt advances in mobile phone technology has made business travel more productive.