It’s no secret that corporate travel offers a significant return on investment. One Oxford Economics USA Report even put the figure at $14.99 per dollar invested.

Creating and maintaining profitable international relationships is often the prime goal of business travel. When done successfully, these relationships become financially lucrative, thus contributing to the trip’s ROI. 

However, the financial benefits of corporate travel can be more discreet than a golden handshake in an overseas boardroom.

The time that travelling employees spend in between meetings, strolling foreign streets, and even in airport terminals can cultivate inspiration, creativity, and eventual business innovation.

Below we explore why returning corporate travellers drive innovative thinking, and outline why managers should capitalise on their experiences upon their return to the office.


Corporate Travel is as Much About the Traveller as it is About the Business

The effectiveness of face-to-face meetings, and the fruitful opportunities presented by networking events are obvious motivations for businesses to send their road warriors off to battle.

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Now consider the motivations the employees themselves may have for embarking on business travel. It’s unlikely that travellers would gladly endure long-haul flights and stressful meetings for the sole sake of the business’ bottom line. 

Career advancement and personal fulfilment rank highly on the priorities of travelling employees. The latter is demonstrated by the popularity of ‘bleisure’ travel; whereby employees mix leisure activities with business obligations during their trip.

So the age-old business trip has become as much about the traveller as it is about the business. Employers who embrace that fact, and travel managers who facilitate personally enriching experiences overseas, stand to profit from energised, productive and potentially innovative employees.



Change Fuels Creativity, and Creativity Fuels Innovation 

The relationship between change and creative thinking has been well-documented. And there are few more all-encompassing changes than international travel.

The American Psychological Association tested the hypothesis that foreign travel can drive creative thinking among college graduates. The 1989 study discovered that novel experiences overseas did indeed drive creative thinking and problem solving aptitude.

The same principal applies to corporate travellers today. While their experiences overseas may be somewhat regulated by their business agenda, even simple changes of setting can be creative stimulus.

And business travellers themselves cite “time away from the desk” as one of the most valuable elements of corporate travel. 

Finn Kelly, CEO of the popular Wealth Enhancers advisory firm, says getting out of the office is the most important reason businesses should invest in corporate travel.

“It allows you to see yourself and your business, evaluate where you are and where you are going, and see if any changes are necessary to get there,” he says.


How Can Managers Take Advantage of Inspired Returning Travellers?

If business trips can serve as a creative refresh for travelling employees, it becomes the manager’s role to capitalise on renewed motivation and international insights. When employees return, managers should encourage collaboration and knowledge-sharing.

However, there is work to be done before they depart, too.

First and foremost, travel managers must recognise the benefit of tailoring an itinerary that facilitates creative thinking overseas. They should enrich the employee’s experience through personalised accommodation bookings, strategic travel allowances and consistent support should unexpected changes occur.

A premium end-to-end experience like this is only possible with a streamlined corporate travel platform.

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