New York, NY –Our emaciated economy has everyone tightening their belts, at home and in the boardroom. While holiday parties, Christmas bonuses and business travel all top the list of expense culprits, a recent study by IHS Global Insight says that cutting travel costs may actually bruise business profits. The study shows that for every $1 spent on business travel, companies may see a return as high as $15.
Imagine that. A $3,000 business class ticket and a well rested, happy employee, brings back a return of $45,000. Compare that to a disgruntled, cramped worker bee who spends 10 hours subsisting on peanuts and ginger-ale. Who would you rather send to meet new clients?
In this age of instantaneous communication - twitter, facebook and text messages - it seems only logical to arrange virtual meetings at a fraction of the cost of a plane ticket. But contrarian logic may apply: companies could lose much as $193 billion in corporate profits by cutting spending on business travel.
“Companies have the opportunity to choose (their) own ROI,” says Paul Metselaar Chairman and CEO of Ovation Travel Group. “ That means first understanding that travel is as much an investment as expense, and then taking a surgical approach to maximizing the return on that investment by closely monitoring and exploiting all cost –cutting and upgrade options without sending your road warriors through the wringer.”
Not only do face-to-face meetings make for a more credible and successful business relationship, but, as the study proposes, they could translate into 5.1 million new jobs, generating more than $101 billion in tax revenue.
But how much spending is enough, and how do companies get the best deals? According to the study, in 2008, companies spent $261 billion on travel expenses, but this may not have been enough.
“Knowing how much to spend on business travel varies by industry and company size, says Julie Barsamian of Cook Travel, an American Express Travel Representative. “Companies also don’t always have the luxury of planning their business travel six months ahead, but by working with business class consolidators (like us), and using 2 for 1 American Express Promotions, they can still get discounted fares on last minute travel.”
What the study doesn’t address is why face-to-face communication is better for business or how it applies to business that doesn’t rely on client acquisition or maintenance.
“Most communication is non-verbal, it’s nuanced, it’s in body language,” says Barsamian. “As a traveling salesperson you can impart more of a lasting impression by exchanging a smile, than by exchanging e-mails.”
About Cook Travel – An American Express Travel Representative
The 35-year-old New York based company offers discounted insider fares.They have five offices, and generate phone and online sales through their website: www.cookamerican.travel
More information about the IHS Global Insight study can be found here:
Cook Travel, an American Express Travel Representative, has increased conversion rates by as much as 48 percent . The company caters exclusively to international corporate and leisure travelers who fly in First and Business Class. The 35-year-old New York-based company offers discounted insider fares. Cook Travel uses its Web site, www.planetamex.com, to generate both phone and online sales.
THE BUSINESS NEED
The Cook Travel Web site represents a unique opportunity to drive business from immediate and potential purchasers. A double call-to-action, phone and online form-fill, gives Cook American Express the ability to drive immediate purchasers to complete their transaction by phone and to fulfill on the second group’s need to shop around for the best price by driving them to click for a quote.
Credibility is crucial in online travel. The current site, www.planetamex.com, had weak credibility because of dated and hidden logos, out-of-date award seals and value propositions that appeared well below the fold. An overabundance of navigation buttons and calls-to-action complicated customer action. Plus, options for the last-minute traveler seemed to be missing altogether. WiderFunnel created three redesigned pages to be tested against the original page:
Variation 1: “Credibility": Calls to action were reinforced and customer’s pain points were addressed as benefit statements in bullet points. Calls to action were placed on the right with the addition of prominent airline logos. www.planetamex.com/vara.html
Variation 2: “Hero”: This variation depicted the business or high-end traveler as the ‘hero’ at the top of the left hand side section, with the calls to action placed right underneath the photos. www.planetamex.com/varb.html
Variation 3: “Offer”: This variation was very similar to “Hero” but the placement of the photo and the calls to action were reversed, now to the right hand side. This emphasized the theme of “offer first”. The up-front headline focused on Planet Amex’s core benefit followed by a ‘Save up to 60%’ subhead and then the ‘Why Book With Us’ bullet points. www.planetamex.com/varc.html
Variation 1 won with a conversion rate lift of 48.41 percent for phone call conversions and an overall 17-percent conversion rate lift for Cook Travel. For more information about the study and conversion rate optimization, visit http://www.widerfunnel.com/.
“I was amazed to see the 48-percent increase in phone calls that WiderFunnel’s new landing pages produced. The analysis, recommendations and winning page are obviously better now that I see them, but we wouldn’t have come up with these ideas on our own. The phones are ringing off the hook and now I have to hire more phone reps!” said Blake Fleetwood of Cook, an American Express Travel Representative.
Founded in 1974, Cook-American Express Travel Representative specializes in international first and business class flights. We have offices in Manhattan, Southampton, East Hampton and Greenport. For more information, visit www.planetamex.com. To request a quote, call 800-435-8776.