To Fly or to Drive

Business travellers are increasingly returning to the humble hire car when it comes to maximising convenience and flexibility. 

A jet-setting company lifestyle is something many businesspeople dream of their entire lives. However, it comes with costs. Airport security, long waits in lounges for connecting flights, and, often, bad food. Now though, we’re in the midst of a shift. We’re seeing a welcome movement away from air travel and back to the humble car. 

According to a BTN Group survey, 57 per cent of corporate travel “decision-makers” said they expect an increase in employee travel by car. They also foresee a considerable two-thirds increase in the number of reps using car rentals at their destinations. 

This move primarily comes from the peace of mind offered by business rental programs. It offers a host of perks that aren’t available when companies use traditional airports. 

Firms Can Leverage Loyalty Programs

Cars from sites like Edmunds are more versatile than conventional flights, meaning that they’re suitable for everything, from site visits to board meetings. Firms can pay for various car-based services to meet their needs, such as executive vehicles for single-person transport, or MPVs for moving more people around. They can also select cars on the frequency with which they will use them, or the number of miles they will drive. 

However, depending on the number of miles driven, there may also be scope for incentives and reimbursements. Companies could get significant discounts from loyalty programs and they can track mileage to observe whether or not it saves money compared to flying. 

Ultimately, business rentals offer better rates than one-off options. Companies could have fleets on retainer, potentially saving them money. 

Business travellers are increasingly returning to the humble hire car when it comes to maximising convenience and flexibility. 

More Reliability

While flights are inevitable for some types of business travel, they aren’t always reliable. Cancellations and delays can disrupt company calendars and anger clients. However, the same is not always true of rental vehicles for corporate purposes. The risk of using these is more diffuse. 

There are also benefits for employees over using their personal vehicles. They can feel more confident their employer is supplying reliable cars that will serve them when required, and provide the safety features they expect. 

The BTN Group survey suggests that around 50 per cent of employees don’t want to use their own vehicles for business trips because they haven’t checked that basic features, like fog lights, are working. Another 45 per cent said they didn’t want to drive their vehicle because it was between 5 and 19 years old and might be unreliable if subjected to a cross-country trip. 

Better Services

Whether the trend will take off in Asian countries remains to be seen. However, it is more likely here than in other parts of the world. Internal Asian flights, for instance, tend to be more expensive than in Europe and America, perhaps incentivizing businesses in well-connected countries to consider road travel instead. Taxes on gasoline also tend to be lower in this region, again adding impetus to the initiative. 

On top of that, car companies may work with hiring firms to provide enhanced vehicular services. For example, they may fully valet vehicles between trips or even fill up the tank. 

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About the Author

Staff Writer

The Art of Business Travel is Asia-Pacific's leading portal for corporate travel news and views. We cover everything from airline routes and airport developments, to new hotels, meeting venues, loyalty schemes, and entertaining.