Business travel can often be a great adventure. It can be exciting to visit different cities, meet new people, eat at different places, see different settings and more.
But business travel can also be seriously taxing. As a travel manager, you enjoy a huge opportunity to help your business travelers make the most of their time away from the office. The decisions you make and the support you provide can help these traveling team members maximize their productivity and minimize their stress while on the road.
To help you better understand what your travelers experience while away from the office, here’s a look at 7 business travel myths, as well as the realities behind them. When you understand the reality of business travel, you can better meet the needs of your traveling team members.
1. Free Time is Plentiful
As a travel manager, you probably already know this, but: Business travel isn’t exactly a chance to see the world. In reality, business travelers are seeing airport waiting areas, nondescript hotel rooms, office buildings and other mundane settings in cities around the world.
Business travelers often visit New York City, but they never see the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island or even a Broadway show. They may catch a glimpse of the Empire State Building when dashing in a cab from Manhattan to La Guardia, but that’s about it.
2. Getting Work Done is Easy
OK, so business travelers aren’t seeing the sights. They must be getting a lot done then, right? Not exactly.
Pursuing productivity while traveling for business can often feel like an exercise in futility. Internet access is often spotty and slow. Coach seats on airlines and queen-size beds in hotels become makeshift workspaces, but they are often cramped and uncomfortable. The day’s activities are filled with meetings and phone calls, and the business traveler often returns home to find an inbox overflowing with correspondence.
Business travel is definitely worth it (see No. 7 below), but don’t imagine that a traveler is getting the same amount of work done out of the office as she or he can get down while in town.
3. It’s Glamorous
Some may think that business travelers are always sitting in first class, always getting suite upgrades at hotels, and always spending client-facing time at happy hours and fine restaurants.
In reality, upgrades can be hard to come by — there are tons of business travelers in major cities and only so many first class seats and suites to go around. And, while there are happy hours and dinners on occasion, these evenings out chew up any relaxation time a business traveler might enjoy. Picture early mornings, full days, late nights and jet lag, and you’ll soon discover how unglamorous business travel can be.
4. Women Shouldn’t Travel Alone
This is an antiquated idea that no longer holds true in the 21st century — if it ever held true in the first place. Men and women should follow the same guidelines for staying safe when traveling either domestically or abroad. Those guidelines are:
• Always stay in public places when spending time with people you’ve just met.
• Don’t let anyone force you to do something you don’t want to do or to make a decision more quickly than you would like.
• Don’t be afraid to be forceful or even rude if the situation requires it.
5. Car Rental is Essential
The Big 3 of business travel are airline, hotel and car rental. Any seasoned business traveler has his or her go-to providers for each. But car rental is slowly losing its status as a peer to airlines and hotels.
Many business travelers choose to book hotels that are close to the places where they will be working. Others take advantage of public transportation, choosing to ride the subway or bus from hotel to work site. And others rely completely on Uber and other ride-sharing services — which often help travelers spend less than they would if renting a car.
And then there are time savings to consider. Time is money, after all, and renting a car can be extremely time-consuming. You wait for your car to be ready at the airport. You spend time finding parking spaces, and then you spend more time filling up with gas. Finally, back at the airport, you wait for the rental company to check in your vehicle. Is all that time worth it?
6. It’s Easier (and Cheaper) to Book on Your Own
You’ve booked a vacation before. How much more difficult can booking a business trip be? While the actual booking of a business trip may not sound too complex, it can become downright overwhelming when you take into account your department budget, expenses, reimbursements, reconciliations and finding the lowest rates and fares.
Most companies use a business travel agency and/or service that provides a comprehensive system to walk you through each step of a business trip, from getting approval to booking to filing expenses when the trip is complete. Companies often leverage their bulk travel needs to negotiate lower rates, too. While you may think you’re getting a deal by booking on your own, there are often far greater savings when using the system in place.
7. It isn’t Worth the Investment
In this era of connectedness, everything can be done by videoconference, right? While some meetings can be held via new technology like videoconference or traditional conference calls, other meetings demand face-to-face communication. An Oxford Economics study indicates that companies see $12.50 added to revenue and $3.80 in new profits on average for every dollar spent on business travel. That’s strong ROI.
Become a Travel Manager Hero!
Travel is still an essential aspect of doing business in the modern age. In your role as a travel manager, you can be a hero to your travelers by providing the support and understanding they need before, during and after trips. By partnering with the right travel agency, you can also be a hero to your company and boss.
At JTB Business Travel, we are a business travel agency that helps you better serve your travelers and your company through our comprehensive services and our common sense approach. Get in touch to learn more about how we can help your company make the most of its business travel.