Benefits of Business Travel
We often rely on electronic communications to conduct business. After all, a video conference or email is much cheaper than hopping on a plane, renting a car and staying at a hotel. However, although phone calls, email and social media have their place, technology is no substitute for face-to-face interaction.
Even if your business is just getting off the ground, meeting your suppliers, customers and prospects in person can be a smart and cost-effective business strategy. Check out these four potential benefits of business travel:
1. Communicating clearly. Electronic communication channels are efficient, but it can be easy to misinterpret an email or text. In person, we convey much of our meaning through facial expressions and body language. For example, when resolving a dispute or disagreeing on an issue, an email could come across as abrupt, giving offense where none is intended. The same words spoken and accompanied by a smile or handshake could convey warmth, understanding and compromise.
2. Networking. Attending a conference, trade show or convention provides many opportunities to meet new potential suppliers, business partners or customers, as well as scope out your competition. You also may discover new product and marketing ideas.
3. Building trust. Meeting a prospect or supplier in person can help establish a more solid relationship and get you to “yes” faster. A face-to-face meeting may help your contact feel more comfortable about doing business with you.
Travel also can help nurture existing relationships. Showing up in person is a great way to demonstrate that you're invested in your customer's success and you don't take them for granted. Bonus: Touring their operation may help you identify other products and services you could be providing.
4. Opening your mind. Being out of your comfort zone can help expose you to new ways of doing business, new markets and new ideas. And, you may return refreshed and energized.
Weighing the costs
Of course, you don't want to travel simply for travel's sake. Consider:
- Is the trip likely to result in a sale, new contacts or at least a foot in the door? Keeping track of your sales conversion rates may help you gauge the effectiveness of your business travel strategy.
- Has there been an error or delay that has strained the relationship? Will some face time help satisfy the customer or stave off a defection to the competition?
- Have there been changes in leadership or personnel that require establishing new relationships?
- Can you minimize the cost? For example, can you get a convention or trade show to pay your way by being one of the presenters? Combine a trip to an existing customer with a visit to a nearby prospect or vendor? How about using a business credit card to earn rewards that can be applied to a future trip?
Spending time and money on business travel may seem unnecessary in the age of electronic communications, but meeting your customers and prospects in person could help you grow your business in the long run. Especially as a small business, travel opportunities can be the perfect strategy for growth.