Who Is The Business Traveler?

As the bad news for airlines and hotels continue, we thought it would make sense to look at who is the business traveler? Who are the road warriors which normally help to keep the lights on for airlines, hotels and restaurants around the world?  As it turns out, the business traveler is someone who puts on miles, racks up nights, and uses their expenses account as part of doing their job.  That’s not a surprise. But what is, is why they travel, and that’s why the industry is so worried.

A recent survey showed that a majority of corporate travelers travel out of preference not necessity. They felt more comfortable closing deals in person, believed meeting colleagues face-to-face is valuable, and attended conferences and trade shows because they wanted to. In other words, they didn’t necessarily have to travel to do their job, they just thought it would be helpful to travel.

Travel for most businesses is optional, and that’s terrifying the travel industry.

However in the age of free video conferencing and Skype and FaceTime, the need to and desire to travel is changing. After 9/11 video conferencing wasn’t nearly as cost-effective or widespread and so people naturally began to return to travel for work. But this time, technology has changed that and things are different.

When this resolves, it will be difficult to get businesses traveling again. To underscore how large this challenge is, we turned to the Business Travel News which tracks the largest corporate travel spenders. As you can see by the top 30, these are large, multinational corporations which will take their time in moving back to regular business mode. That is assuming they ever do.

Top 35 Corporate Travel Spenders

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