The Science of Business Travel

Everyone in the global travel industry knows that business travelers are a much sought after clientele. We are more likely to be Elite Travelers, meaning we book higher business class or first class airfares, we are typically devoted to frequent flyer and hotel loyalty programs and we tend to use our expense accounts on entertaining at fine restaurants. In essence, we travel more, are more loyal and definitely spend more than the typical traveler on vacation. Face it, we’re a catch.

But why do Elite Travelers travel? Well first off for business (duh) but coming in at a close second is simply the love of the journey (double duh). After all every business traveler is just a leisure traveler on another day and behind every Elite Traveler is a person with the means and ways to indulge their international obsessions. So lets look at the facts behind business travel, as the economics are fascinating.

This blog will reveal the science of business travel while the next in this series will look at the art of business travel. Two related but very different perspectives.

Hard Numbers

According to Oxford Economics every dollar invested in business travel creates an average $12.50 in increased revenue and $3.80 in new profit for companies. A US Travel Association survey says that business travelers believe 28 percent of their current business would be lost without in-person meetings and that roughly 40 percent of their new customers were converted with a trip as compared to just 16 percent without a personal meeting.

And this is not just an American perspective. A recent survey of 600 European business travelers commissioned by the National Business Travel Association found that only 65% of respondents had used video conferencing and of those a full 41% used it to complement not replace face-to-face meetings. Clearly business execs know nothing replaces personal interaction when it comes to managing across the globe.

Hard Dollars

The need to travel the world for business is established, but what’s really amazing is the impact this has on economies. The British Tourism Authority estimates that we business travelers spend on average three times more than leisure visitors, making it by far the most lucrative, high spend, high yield form of tourism to the UK. This generates £15 billion annually and creates over a half a million full-time jobs.

In the United States the US Travel Association calculates that direct spending on business travel by domestic and international travelers totaled $214.7 billion in 2009. And in the same year U.S. residents logged 432 million person-trips for business purposes. Asian and South American stats show a similar impact. Business travel is good for the travel industry, good for local economies and great for the individual traveler… when done right. And that will be the subject of our next blog in this series, how to maximize the joy of international travel.