Why the future of business travel will be dictated by your CRM system

Eoin Landers
Eoin Landers

July 14 ∙ 4 minutes read

“Customer relationship management tools are conquering the corporate world, and the implications for managed travel are profound.”

In his article “How CRM Is Transforming Corporate Travel Buyer/Supplier Relationships” towards the end of 2019, prolific industry figurehead Amon Cohen stated the above. And with total spend on CRM software growing 13.7% to $48.2 billion in 2018 according to Gartner, who can blame him? It’s not about the widespread adoption of CRM systems he argues, but because more companies are doing so much more with it.

Even in a world with reduced travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s no denying that building trust via in-person meetings is easier than on a teleconference, it’s a long-ingrained practice. Most agree that tech simply cannot replace the need for face-to-face human interaction and 60% of senior finance leaders agree, considering it crucial to company growth. 

But this very pandemic has also brought all company spend under intense scrutiny and companies are starting to use intelligent technologies, such as CRM systems, to better manage their travel spend and leverage it as a key initiative for business growth. By gaining further insight into expenditure and the subsequent value to the business, companies are able to better understand factors like customer acquisition costs (CAC) and customer lifetime value (CLTV).

Knowledge is power in corporate travel management

Your travel and expense data holds insights that show you how your company expenses are tracking and highlights trends and patterns to focus on repeating or reversing. Powerfully combining this data with the sales and operational data means you always have a clear picture of cash flow and profitability – and an understanding of how expenses contribute to revenue and overall business growth.

It’s here where your company’s CRM system can provide superior insight and provide true ROI on each spending decision through integration of CRM data into the traditional travel and expense process. Where customer relationship management has evolved over the last decade to enable commercial teams to sell more using automation and insights into customer behaviours, they also augment employee behaviours to guide data-driven decision making. So, if your travel and expense management system allows you to connect trips with projects, opportunities and customer accounts, you can gain further insight into the ROI of your employees’ travel spend – and crucially, whether the travel is necessary or not. 

The end of the single meeting business trip

A recent article from Skift “Is This the End of the Single Meeting Business Trip?” goes further and predicts the end of business trips to see just one customer or prospect: “The days of travelling for a single meeting could soon be numbered as the pandemic shifts priorities and budgets when it comes to corporate travel. The lone meeting may soon be relegated to an extravagance of the past.”

As a result, many companies are already shifting their travel policies from “how” employees should travel to the reasons “why” employees should travel. What is the strategic reason for business travel or will the trip have any impact on revenues?

So it’s not hard to see why businesses need the data to understand what constitutes a business-critical trip as they start to emerge from lockdown. What data does a manager require to prove his team member’s business travel could result in revenue? This is where the operational data that resides in a company’s CRM system comes into play. Without this, it’s almost impossible to understand the ROI implications of spending on business travel. 

Integrating customer data with travel and expense data

The following scenarios all lend themselves to requiring an onsite meeting and therefore, spending on business travel: meeting a prospect to agree terms and conditions, visiting an existing client to protect current revenue, fulfilling contract requirements where a physical presence is required to perform a certain task such as maintenance. Given CRM is a technology for managing all your company’s relationships and interactions with customers and potential customers, it’s clear, therefore, to see the benefit of having business travel sitting alongside this customer data. 

Businesses have already gotten ahead of the herd by automating their travel management processes – the next step will be leveraging this CRM data for quicker and more powerful decision making. And at the same time, alleviating the burdens of employees and the business alike by using a single application for it all.

SalesTrip is an expense management and travel booking system built natively on Salesforce, the world’s leading CRM cloud platform. Our customers rely on SalesTrip to transform how their people work outside the office, so their organisations can thrive in return. 

Eoin Landers

Eoin Landers