Two-thirds of UK businesses plan to boost business travel spend by 50 per cent or more according to new research from American Express.

The research, which surveyed both business travellers and decision makers, found that around four in ten businesses (42 per cent) are looking to increase the amount of business travel they undertake, while over two-thirds (68 per cent) plan to ramp up their spending in this area by 50 per cent or more compared to current levels.

The increase is from the lower level of 2020 and 2021, a result of the pandemic, but nevertheless some 82 per cent of those surveyed said that they believed business travel plays a key role in driving revenue, profitability and enabling growth. Six in 10 businesses (60 per cent) plan to expand into new UK regions while over a third (35 per cent) want to enter new international markets.

The recognition of the importance of business travel comes at a time when over three-quarters of respondent companies (77 per cent) reported that their business suffered due to the limited ability to travel during the past two years. The reasons for travel are numerous: almost three-quarters (73 per cent) see it as being valuable in connecting remote teams while one fifth (20 per cent) say they are doing more trips to bring teams together.

The rise of ‘bleisure’ – a combination of business travel and leisure – means one in three (31 per cent) employees can bring their partner or a family member on work trips for little or no extra cost; and 79 per cent of businesses state they have increased their focus on employee wellbeing when travelling.

Hana Lear, Vice President, Corporate, UK Card Services at American Express, said: “Businesses had no choice but to press pause on a lot of travel over the last two years and lean on virtual alternatives to build relationships with customers and colleagues. Our research shows that business travel and the value of in-person connections in driving growth go hand in hand.

“However, there’s clearly a renewed focus on the entire business travel experience to ensure both companies and employees maximise the value of trips. Our focus is on meeting the needs of companies of all sizes as these strategies evolve – whether that’s through our Business Cards that make travel expenses more rewarding or our suite of account management tools offering key insights and reports.”

From the perspective of business travellers, 71 per cent say they would leave their role if their employer didn’t prioritise their wellbeing during their trips and 42 per cent say they prefer when they can blend business travel with leisure time. In response, 43 per cent of businesses stating they are finding new ways to help employees enjoy ‘bleisure’. Nevertheless, 62 per cent of travellers think there is more their employer can do to make trips easy, productive, and fuss-free for their teams.

On sustainability, seven in ten (71 per cent) worry about the environmental impact of their trips and over three quarters (78 per cent) state they are more conscious of their carbon footprint when travelling than previously.