As many as 95% of travellers from small firms are willing to restart business travel again within the next year and 63% are actively willing to do so.
Travellers from small businesses see their companies facing severe consequences if they do not increase travel soon, according to research by travel, expense and invoice management solution firm SAP Concur.
They are concerned that there will be fewer deals signed (35%) and a difficulty to build new relationships (33%).
Travellers at small to medium-sized firms are more likely than those at larger companies to have professional concerns (79% verses 72%).
They are most concerned about developing and maintaining business connections (40%) and making less money (38%) if business travel does not increase in the next 12 months.
However, these firms want more control over trips. The disparity between flexibility (70%) and vaccination-related demands (55%) is even greater among travellers in smaller businesses than it is among those at larger companies (69% flexibility verses 64% vaccination-related demands), according to the study.
More than 90% expect to change their behaviour in the coming 12 months, including more frequently staying in larger hotels (33%), prioritising domestic trips (33%) and using cars instead of public transportation (31%).
Many travellers also want their employers to adopt a more sustainable approach to business travel in the future, with 66% of employees wanting to travel more sustainably.
Travellers within small businesses are also more unforgiving than ever before and more than half (53%) would make changes if their company fails to provide the necessary policies or measures to protect their health and safety. This includes 29% who would try to limit their travel and 22% who would look for a new employer.
A total of 1,650 business travellers were surveyed from organisations with less than 1,000 employees in six markets including the UK, US and Canada.
SAP Concur small and medium-sized business UK managing director Ryan Demaray said: “Travellers from within small businesses see an even greater need for business travel than their counterparts at larger companies.
“They clearly recognise the importance of business travel to the health of their organisation, so are keen for it to restart quickly.
“Despite this appetite, many don’t plan on returning to travel unconditionally. To ensure that employees are okay to travel again, small businesses must recognise their desire for policy and procedural changes that give them the flexibility and control to travel in the most safe and sustainable manner.
“It is likely that small businesses start with domestic travel initially and the desire for sustainable travel will likely see an increase in the use of rail for business trips.”
He added: “Successful small businesses will adapt through the use of efficient solutions and tools that empower travellers to make the best decisions for their own needs.
“At the same time, travel programmes must meet business objectives such as reducing costs, tracking spending and consolidating travel data. It is possible to integrate travel management within expense application, to increase visibility and make this an easier process.
“Re-imagining travel will help improve employee satisfaction and retention while supporting business continuity. Companies that do so will put themselves in position to be more competitive in the future.”