Are SMEs the key to Australia’s business travel recovery?

Corporate Traveller General Manager Tom Walley believes SMEs will not only be key in driving the recovery of the travel market, but their return to travel will also give Australia a much-needed economic boost.

Small businesses account for 98 per cent of all businesses in Australia and, according to Corporate Traveller data, SMEs make up 65 per cent of business travel. Australia also has a large domestic travel market and SME business travel encourages spending – with total business travel spend in Australia estimated to be $25 billion per year. Essentially, when businesses cannot travel, the economy can suffer.

Tom says, “SME business travel also benefits the country’s overall business sector, as it allows for face-to-face relationship building with stakeholders.”

How do we encourage a widespread return to travel for SMEs, to drive the country’s overall business travel recovery?

Tom says, “When Governments open borders and lift restrictions, they have deemed that health risks during travel are low. This is an opportunity to break out of virtual meetings. Businesses have worked well remotely since the start of the pandemic, but in situations where collaboration is needed, video conferencing isn’t always sufficient, particularly when making important business decisions.

“With teams, in-person communication allows for better problem-solving and improves company culture. It also helps increase employee engagement, productivity and performance, and increase employee retention. With customers, face-to-face relationship building helps build rapport and drive sales.

If SMEs are confident to return to travel, Tom believes the country’s domestic travel will bounce back healthily within the next 12 months. As such, it is important for the industry to focus on the travel recovery of this market segment.

Factors such as vaccinations, rapid COVID testing, traveller tracking and contact tracing, hotel hygiene, insurance offerings and Government policy will be key to restoring business confidence to return to travel and ultimately drive the recovery of the sector.

A good travel management partner and AI-supported technology are also important factors. Tom explains, “We have learned that SMEs want live, accurate updates and information when travelling. TMCs like Corporate Traveller have the technology, data and connections to provide those real-time travel and infection-control updates.”

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