SME travel costs remain high despite financial pressures

UK firms are cutting back on business trips as they face mounting pressure to cut their operating costs, a new study has revealed.

A quarter of firms have seen their travel budgets decline in the last 12 months, according to Trainline for Business.

However, more than half of workers say budgets have not changed, just that they are expected to be more cost efficient when travelling for business.

Of 26% who said budgets had fallen, four in ten said they were supposed to travel less while 37% said they were forced to pick cheaper options when travelling.

Around one in five workers said they were asked by their employers to shorten the length of business trips too.

Business owners are leading by example when it comes to cost cutting too, as 65% said they travel on Off-peak services in order to save money.

Ananth Ramanathan, Head of SME at Trainline, said that business travel remains a necessity given the need for face to face meetings, while opting to use rail services can provide a boost to productivity.

He said businesses are looking at cheaper options in order to save, especially as operating costs continue to rise.

Should a business be concerned over its financial situation, conducting an independent business review might be necessary to showcase if and where improvements can be made.

Alternatively, changing structure may be required to boost the company, so solvent restructuring processes may be used.

The study found that the average SME business traveller makes four business trips a month to locations in the UK, alongside two international trips.

Around 8% of travellers said they had travelled overseas four times a month during the last year, with travelling by car and train listed as the most popular options of getting around – both were used regularly by more than two thirds of employees.

While London is the standout popular city for business travel – perhaps unsurprising given the number of SMEs there – Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool and Cardiff were also popular options.

Each has clusters of SMEs that specialise in numerous sectors, meaning businesses have numerous opportunities to network and expand.

By Phil Smith


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