News // 27 May 2019

Strategic Planning

Why travel should form an important part of a business’ strategic plan.

With online connectivity being better than ever, more and more businesses are making global expansion a part of their strategic plan. With a simple click of a button, businesses from around the globe can network, negotiate and trade with their industry partners. This provides companies with many great advantages. Not only does it hugely increase their potential target markets, but also their products and services no longer need to be resourced locally and for many, this means location is no longer a restriction.

Whilst having this online resource provides a great many opportunities, there are also drawbacks to relying on online communication and there are occasions where face-to-face interaction provides much better results. Below three areas are identified where in-person interaction delivers advantages, demonstrating that business travel is a worthwhile investment and one which should be built into a business’ strategic plan.

Market Research

Most market research is now completed remotely. It can be acquired via online surveys, in-depth telephone interviews and focus-group webinars. However, some data may be missed if all research is completed online and there is no face-to-face interaction with participants or first-hand experience of the culture of the target market. By travelling to the location of the target market, brands can get a real feel of the country and the culture, even outside of their pre-determined research. By meeting market research respondents face-to-face, subtle clues via body language, facial expressions and even interaction outside of the pre-determined research will enable them to draw more informed conclusions. Accurate and valid market research is crucial to a successful launch, so can businesses afford not include travel to the location of their target market into their strategic plan?

Meeting clients and suppliers

Day to day many businesses operate online. Marketing and advertising strategies use online ads, email campaigns and social media. Negotiations, agreements and general business operations are, for many businesses, done via email. Even the telephone is being used less and less and often people never meet their clients or suppliers. But how has this affected relationship building? Trust, confidence and understanding can be pretty difficult to foster from a keyboard. Consider how many times you have been let down, either from a client or a supplier, when work has been agreed online?

By meeting your clients and suppliers face-to-face, a rapport is developed; a connection through this in-person communication. A client is far more likely to give work to a person they have met, as they like them (assuming a good impression has been made!) and they see them as a real person, not just an email address. Equally, suppliers are much less likely to let you down, if they have spent time getting to know you face-to-face.

Of course, now businesses are trading internationally, meeting clients or suppliers in person is going to be more costly than if a business is on the local high street. However, this could be an investment worth making; one which will bring benefits in the long run and should certainly be considered when forming a strategic plan.

 Networking Events

Networking events are a fantastic way to meet new contacts; both clients and suppliers, and is one in-person method of business promotion that is still going strong.

Meeting and communicating with peers in your industry raises your business’ profile and ensures your brand is at the front of a client’s minds when allocating work. Furthermore, it enables you to make useful supplier contacts for your business; a mutually beneficial platform for businesses.

Networking also enables you to stay current with industry trends. Many of these events include seminars and workshops from leaders in the industry. Having this insight into the market by attending networking events and learning from key influencers should be an important part of any business’ strategic plan.

Due to the increase in global business trade, many industry sectors now hold large-scale, international networking events in centrally located venues. These networking events provide businesses a great opportunity to gain the exposure on a global scale and will almost certainly deliver a return on investment.

Working online and remotely has brought many benefits to businesses around the world, but the face-to-face element of business operations should not be overlooked. Including business travel into your strategic planning and really getting to know your market, your clients and your suppliers is a worthwhile investment to maximise your business growth.