For small businesses, each business trip an employee goes on isn’t just an expense for the company to keep track of. It can be a goldmine of information you can use to make business travel more cost-efficient and a better experience for your employees.

A 2016 survey conducted by the BTN Group and American Express Global Business Travel notes that for the majority of senior managers in companies, compliance and savings are the most important metrics to track. Based on the findings of the BTN Group and AMEX Global Business Travel’s survey, we narrowed them down to a list of metrics most relevant to small businesses:

  • The success of each business trip
  • Travel vs. video/remote conferencing
  • Traveller satisfaction with preferred suppliers
  • Travel costs as a percentage of revenue
  • Traveller satisfaction with the travel program

In this guide, we take a closer look at these metrics and what each one means for your business and travelling employees.

The success of each business trip

To what extent are your employees meeting their goals on their business trips? To answer this question, go back to your trip purpose and find out why your employees are travelling in the first place. Is it to meet with potential clients? Procure raw materials from suppliers? Conduct site inspections? Whatever the case, this metric revolves around determining whether or not your employees’ business trips fulfil your objectives and deliver the desired outcomes.

An example of a relevant KPI that will help you track this metric is return on investment (ROI).

However, calculating the ROI of a business trip can be tricky due to the variety of factors that influence each trip’s success. For example, what if a business traveller succeeded in closing a contract but ended up taking six months and multiple trips to do so?

Be that as it may, measuring ROI to track the success of each business trip your employees go on is an essential way to know if your corporate travel spending is generating results.

Travel vs. video/remote conferencing

While video conferencing offers several benefits for business communication, it doesn’t completely replace business travel, even if video technology vendors tell you otherwise.

Sure, video calls offer a cost-effective way to get facetime with business contacts thousands of miles away (saving business up to US$33,000 a year according to research by video conferencing platform LyteSpark, as cited by ZDNet), but the benefits of actual face-to-face interactions cannot be underestimated either, especially when it comes to things like building rapport and trust.

While comparing business travel with video conferencing seems like a case of comparing apples and oranges, it’s still a good idea to track this metric to see how your investment in a travel management platform, for example, pays off next to your investment in video conferencing solutions (if any). Tracking this metric also lets you understand what business communication activities generate results on business trips and which ones do so through video calls.

This will help you take a more rigorous approach to business travel, ensuring that employees hit the road only when it is necessary.

Traveller satisfaction with preferred suppliers

This one is pretty straightforward. How satisfied are your travelling employees with the suppliers/vendors in your company’s managed corporate travel program or your self-booking platform?

The simplest way to find out your employees’ sentiments about their business trips is to conduct internal surveys or do them through your corporate travel solution—it’s a good idea to do this after each employee’s trip, when the experience is still fresh on their minds.

Once you’ve gathered your data, you can then divide the average rating provided by your travelling employees with the highest possible rating to get an average satisfaction score. For example, if your average score if 5 out of 10, you can then take steps to understand what your travellers’ problems are and act accordingly, perhaps by switching suppliers or providing business travellers with more autonomy to plan their trips.

Travel costs as a percentage of revenue

Travel spending as a percentage of revenue is a key metric many companies use to benchmark their IT spending levels. Research by Accenture reveals that for the average company, travel spend accounts for approximately one per cent of revenues.

You can use this data point to benchmark your travel spending levels to see if your corporate travel budget is rich or lean in terms of cost structure. If you aren’t spending enough, you may be creating a bottleneck, impeding your employees from maximising opportunities gained through business trips. Conversely, if you’re spending too much, you could be wasting money and depriving other areas from opportunities for growth.

Traveller satisfaction with the travel program

Another dimension of business traveller satisfaction your company can track is how well your employees receive your corporate travel policy. Contrary to what you might think, most employees don’t want to deviate from company policy but are forced to do so for some of the following reasons:

  • Confusion over policy rules
  • Absence of a self-booking tool for business trips, forcing employees to go rogue and book their trips on consumer sites
  • Lack of training on corporate travel processes and tools

By tracking traveller satisfaction, it becomes easier to understand why your corporate travellers have problems with compliance (if they do) and find ways to make it easier for your processes to be followed.

Choosing which metrics to track

While the specific corporate travel metrics explained in this guide should help you measure the success of your travel program, each metric should still be considered as a suggestion.

When it comes to setting your company’s corporate travel metrics, the key is figuring out if it makes sense for your organisation and business goals. There is no one-size-fits-all approach, so be sure to talk to your leadership and employees to determine which metrics are important to you and which aren’t.