UK SMEs are reaping the benefits of going on international business trips and winning new business as a result. New research1 from the British Airways American Express® Accelerating Business Card has found nearly two thirds (62%) of UK SME leaders have taken international business trips in the past two years and more than a quarter (27%) of these leaders have won a new contract on their trip.
SME leaders are prioritising building relationships with overseas contacts that could potentially grow revenue. The top three reasons for UK SME leaders to take part in an international business trip are attending an industry event or networking (38%), meeting an existing client face-to-face (38%) and meeting a potential client face-to-face (35%).
The company leaders that are doing business overseas are securing a return on their investment. The research found nearly half (48%) of UK SMEs leaders said their international trips improved relationships with an existing contact and 43% made a new business contact as a result of an international trip. Impressively, more than a quarter (28%) received an introduction to a new client.
Company leaders recognise there are barriers to overseas business travel. A quarter (25%) consider it to be too time-consuming and some (6%) do not see the value of face-to-face meetings. However, with SMEs demonstrating that face-to-face meetings can help win new business, the study demonstrates the power of the business trip.
Maximising travel time
A consideration when heading overseas on business is the time commitment to travelling. The research found the top three activities SME leaders undertake when they are in transit:
- Answering emails (53%)
- Relaxing (watching a film, reading a book) (42%)
- Doing day-to-day work (40%)
Less than a third (30%) of the SME leaders who attend international business trips maximise their travel time to think about the bigger picture and plan their company strategy.
Investing in international business trips
The research found less than a quarter (23%) of UK SME leaders use a business credit card which offers rewards or points to pay for international travel. A similar amount (22%) of company leaders instead choose to use a business credit card which is on a standard rate with no additional benefits. One in 10 (13%) use a personal credit card and 11% of UK SMEs use a personal debit card.
Colin O'Flaherty, General Manager, Global Commercial Services, UK at American Express said, “In a world of virtual working, UK SMEs are demonstrating a clear return by investing in face-to-face meetings and attending international business trips, securing new business wins as a result. Our study found that 32% of UK SME leaders believe overseas business travel can be too expensive. However shrewd company owners are maximising rewards and points offered on business credit cards, meaning they can secure free flights and upgrades for future international business trips.”
The new British Airways American Express® Accelerating Business Card is the only business credit card that lets business owners earn both accelerated On Business Points and Avios, making it a fast way to turn company spend into travel rewards and savings.2 New Cardmembers will earn 2,200 On Business Points if they spend £3,000 or more in the first three months of Cardmembership.3
For more information about the British Airways American Express® Accelerating Business Card please visit americanexpress.com/uk/business/credit-cards/british-airways-accelerating-card
1. Omnibus research was conducted by Opinium amongst 500 SME decision makers in companies that have 250 employees or less. Research was conducted between 23 and 30 September 2019.
2. Representative Example: Representative APR: 81.6% APR variable; Credit limit: Assumed credit limit of £1,200; Purchase rate: 22.9% p.a. variable.
3. The 2,200 bonus On Business Points will be awarded once you have been approved and you have spent and charged a minimum of £3,000 on goods and services to the Card Account within three months of Account opening. Interest, fees (including default fees), balance transfers, cash advances (including transactions treated as cash), loading of prepaid cards, American Express Travellers Cheque purchases or foreign exchange transactions and any amounts that are subsequently re-credited to your Card Account by way of refunds or other types of credit, are not eligible towards the bonus. Your Account must be in good standing at the time of earning the bonus. All introductory offers are subject to change and can be withdrawn at any time. On Business Points are issued and redeemed subject to On Business Programme terms and conditions. Terms taxes, fees and carrier chargers apply. Based on a return Euro Traveller ticket. Some return fares exceed 3,000 On Business Points.Your interest rate and credit limit will vary depending on your individual circumstances.