Daniel A. Tanner - Dec 8, 2014

Carlson Wagonlit Travel’s consulting arm, CWT Solutions Group, released their most recent research results on the return on investment (ROI) of business travel.10,000 travelers were surveyed in a bid to determine how they viewed the ROI of a business trip, as well as to provide a guidance on how to reduce the number of unsatisfactory business trips.
Respondents were required to measure how successful they consider their last business trip and 88% of all trips scored successful while 9.5% of them were seen as average (without any significant benefits compared to their cost). Only the remaining 2.5% were deemed as unsatisfactory.
Travelers who rated their trips as most unsatisfactory were then asked if they had expected this to be the case before commencing them; 68% agreed that they had. This shows that, in most cases, low success is often anticipated even before the trip kicks off.
A further investigation of low-success trips reveals common patterns: if a meeting ends up unsuccessful, it is mainly because of a lack of preparation (40%), or similarly, a lack of a clear agenda (16%). The main factors that relate to trip failure include: the total number of meetings held during the trip; the time spent at those meetings; as well as advance booking.
Studies have shown that the return on a trip is the sum total of all the returns of the meetings that took place during the trip. Thus, more meetings generate more value and subsequently a lower number of failed trips. Just a single meeting in a trip has been proved to produce an unsatisfactory result 19% of the time. This reduces by a factor of 2 if the number of meetings is raised to 6 and above. As a rule-of-thumb, each extra meeting lowers the probability of a trip turning out unsuccessful by about 10%.
Another factor that affects the success of a trip – and that is also related to the total number of meetings held – is the time spent at such meetings. 38% of the unsuccessful trips had their cumulative meeting time at 4 hours or below. A cumulative meeting time of one hour or less leads to the probability of the trip being unsuccessful in 28% of cases, which is further reduced to about 8% if a meeting takes up a total of 2 days or more.
The CWT report suggests the following tactics in order to mitigate the risk of a trip ending up unsuccessful:
- Make a plan to have more meetings per trip: only a single meeting during a trip produces unsuccessful results 19% of the time. As a rule-of-thumb, every extra meeting lowers the probability of a trip ending up unsuccessful by around 10%.
- Ensure that meetings get plenty of time: a cumulative meeting-time per trip of below one hour leads to a probability of unsuccessful trips of 28%. This reduces to about 8% if the meetings take up 2 days or more.
- Plan and book early for a trip: the longer in-advance you plan your trip, the less likely it ends in failure. Early planning leaves more time for travelers to book their trips, as well as to arrange their meetings well. The CWT research reveals that a trip booked less than 3 days in advance will run a 21% risk of ending up unsuccessful. Compare this to trips booked more than 2 weeks in advance that do have an 11% chance of being rated unsatisfactory at the end.

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