SMEs are key to driving the business travel sector’s recovery in Australia

Tom Walley, General Manager at Corporate Traveller Australia

Business travel contributes a significant portion to Australia’s travel sector and the economy.

Since the start of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the Small and Medium Enterprise sector has been greatly impacted and has experienced a significant decline in business travel.

A global SME travel management company says SMEs will be a key driver in the country’s travel recovery and will play an important role in giving the economy a needed boost.

Corporate Traveller’s predictions on business travel

Tom Walley is General Manager at Corporate Traveller, Australia’s only dedicated SME travel management provider, which has helped more than 6,500 SMEs with their personalised travel needs through expert advice, dedicated travel managers, and innovative booking technology.

“Small businesses account for around 98% of all Australian businesses and across our own corporate travel businesses, SMEs makes up 65% of business travel,” Mr Walley said.

“SMEs are the backbone of the Australian economy and growth in both business sales and employee productivity bring direct benefits to the country’s bottom line.”

It benefits the business sector as it enables face-to-face relationships with stakeholders.

While many businesses have worked remotely, Mr Walley believes in-person communication allows for better problem-solving, the ability to build a rapport and fosters company culture.

“Video conferencing is an efficient means of communication but it’s ineffective in situations where collaboration is needed, particularly when making important business decisions.”

“Face-to-face relationship building with customers helps drive sales, while in-person interaction with employees helps increase employee engagement, retention and improves productivity.”

“People connect emotionally with stakeholders outside the clinical aspect of doing business.”

Corporate Traveller’s assessment of domestic 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.

When businesses cannot travel, the economy is impacted.

Mr Walley explains that the lockdowns have postponed many of his customers’ business travel.

If Small and Medium Enterprises are confident to return to travel, Mr Walley predicts that the country’s domestic travel will bounce back healthily within the next 12 months.

“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,” Mr Walley said.

“For business travel to recover, SMEs will want live, accurate updates and information when travelling and I urge them to engage with a travel management service that has the technology, data and connections to provide real-time travel and infection-control updates.”