Level 2: The professional or business need to travel

Level 2 ProfessionalCommuting. Conferences. Education. Consulting. Exploring new partnerships. Establishing new processes. Nearly every type of job involves some amount of travel, whether on a daily or infrequent basis. Travel could be local or global and could be short or long-term.

In any case, the work demands travel. Usually, the traveler does not decide where to go, when, or where they stay. The employer sets the travel policies, or the constraints of the meeting dictate them. Business travelers may not be spending their own money, but cost is still a significant factor.

The business traveler embarks because it’s a requirement. It’s not a matter of existence, but subsistence. Examining the psychology of this type of traveler is essential. In reality, you want to please two customers at once: the company who is paying for the travel and minds the cost, and the person traveling who minds the experience as a whole and the price less so.

For this level, the global market is expected to reach $1.6T by 2023[1] (although with covid-19, this figure will revise downward). Business travel has remained steady over the last ten years (about 20% of all travel in the US is business travel [2]). By virtue of the industry’s familiarity with business travelers, I see this as a segment that is ripe for disruption and innovation.

When talking with non-travel industry travelers, I’m never surprised at the lack of appreciation for all that goes into business travel, what corporations have to negotiate, the systems involved, policies and preferences, the ‘managed’ and ‘unmanaged’ traveler (does anyone want to be a “managed” traveler?). Primarily with business travel, airlines, hoteliers and car rental companies monitor key product volumes (e.g., Marriott in Manhattan; American, Delta, United and JetBlue on NYC area airport load factors to the West Coast; Avis and Hertz with not only new car rental entrants, but also with ride-sharing services, Uber, Lyft and car-sharing services such as car2go.

Business travel experts such as Taras Consulting Group (currently $26B [3] in TCO) work with large corporate accounts on negotiating the best deals possible for their corporate travelers. We even read that large businesses such as Apple can sway United to add more flights to China from the San Francisco area, and Toyota can sway Japan Airlines to fly to DFW when they moved their US headquarters to Texas in 2016.

In almost all cases I have been involved with, moving from a do-it-yourself form of travel to working with networks that offer bulk buying for business travel, reduces expenses, and can solve issues while traveling before you know they exist. Even as a consultant, I almost always use a travel company because more times than I wish to remember, flights were canceled or delayed and the agency already rebooked me. A 24-hour once-a-day flight from Chile to Australia was re-ticketed on another carrier, saving me about a 20-hour delay, airport transit ‘showed’ up for connections on late arrivals to Hong Kong and I find myself with more hotel room upgrades than when I book travel on my own.

[1] https://www.alliedmarketresearch.com/business-travel-market

[2] https://www.statista.com/statistics/207103/forecasted-number-of-domestic-trips-in-the-us/

[3] https://tcgconsulting.net/about-tcg-consulting/

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