by Michael J. Shapiro | January 01, 2015
Business trips are largely successful, and even more so when travelers add more meetings and spend a higher percentage of their trip time in meetings, according to new research from the CWT Solutions Group.

The consulting arm of Carlson Wagonlit Travel surveyed 10,000 business travelers between May and October 2014 to gauge traveler return on investment. The results were compiled in The Value of Business Travel: The Travelers' Perspective. The vast majority of respondents (88 percent) reported that their last business trip was successful, while 9.5 percent deemed their most recent trip average, with no significant benefit compared to the cost, and just 2.5 percent considered their last trip unsatisfactory. More than two-thirds (68 percent) of the unsatisfied travelers had anticipated that their trips would be unsuccessful.

According to the survey, unsuccessful trips were primarily a result of a lack of preparation (per 40 percent) or lack of a clear agenda (16 percent). A number of patterns emerged from the data, suggesting that the following tactics will improve the effectiveness of business trips.

• Arrange more meetings. A trip with just one meeting is deemed unsuccessful 19 percent of the time. Each additional meeting reduces the likelihood of an unsuccessful trip by about 10 percent.

• Devote more time to meetings. The probability of having an unsuccessful trip is 28 percent when cumulative meeting time is less than one hour. When meetings take up two or more days, such probability is reduced to 8 percent.

• Plan and book early.
 The longer in advance a trip is planned, the less likely it is to be unsuccessful. A trip booked less than three days in advance runs a 21 percent risk of being unsuccessful, while those booked more than two weeks out have just an 11 percent chance of being unsuccessful. Supporting evidence for this also is seen when looking at trip type: There is a 9 percent probability that intercontinental trips will be unsuccessful, compared with 14 percent for domestic trips. Intercontinental trips typically are longer and are booked earlier.

"We're looking forward to working with our clients to reduce the number of unsuccessful trips and increase the value delivered by their travel programs," said the report's lead author, Catalin Ciobanu, director of innovation and big data analytics for CWT Solutions Group. The next step, according to the report, is to link trip success with the key performance indicators many global companies are using. "Looking to the future, we believe that quantifying and tracking the impact of every business trip will help companies to manage travel better as a strategic activity supporting corporate goals," said Ciobanu.