Study: Biz Travelers More Productive on the Road

by Fred Gebhart

Road warriors work much harder on the road than they do in the office – and they wouldn’t have it any other way, according to a survey.

The recent poll of more than 1,000 frequent business travelers conducted for Fairfield Inn & Suites found that 67% of the most frequent business travelers said they work twice as much on the road as they do in the office.

Road time brings success
So it’s probably no surprise that 80% of business travelers also feel that time on the road makes them more successful at work. And that may be why 70% of travelers who take a dozen or more trips annually turn on their computers and start working as soon as they check in.

“These findings tell us that it is extremely important to do anything possible to support road warriors’ productivity,” Fairfield vice president Shruti Buckley told Travel Market Report. “One of the things travel managers can do is to make it possible for travelers to book brands that meet their emotional needs for productivity and support and local information.”

The online study, Inside the Mind and Carry-On of the Frequent Business Traveler: Emotional and Professional Benefits of Business Travel, was fielded in May, 2012 by market research firm TNS for the Marriot brand, she said.

Why they do what they do
The results may not be stunning – employees who don’t like travel probably work hard to minimize the time they have to spend on the road – but they can help explain why business travelers do what they do on the road. Most traveler surveys simply track behavior, Buckley noted, but this one tried to tease out the emotions that move travelers to act.

“We all hear from travelers who complain about airport security and travel becoming more of a hassle,” Buckley said. “But we found that frequent business travelers enjoy the travel experience. That’s really what surprised us the most.”

What travelers most enjoyed about business travel is experiencing new places (68%), meeting new people (54%) and going out to eat (52%). Nearly half (47%) said they enjoyed earning loyalty points or miles from air, hotel or car frequent traveler programs. Almost as many said they liked not going into the office (36%) as trying new foods (38%).

Gender, age differences
But there were some notable differences by gender and age.

Women are significantly more likely to enjoy not going into the office than men (42% versus 30%), spending time alone (32% versus 26%), not commuting (19% versus 14%) and ordering room service (20% versus 9%).

Travelers with 12 or more annual trips are significantly more likely than other travelers to say they work twice as much on the road (67% versus 56%) as in the office. But younger travelers are more significantly more likely than their older colleagues to enjoy the extra work on the road (18-34 years old, 30%; 35-54, 21%; 55+, 19%).

Sense of freedom
One of the things travelers like most about spending time on the road is a sense of freedom. Not quite two-thirds (60%) of travelers said they feel free to do whatever they want to do while traveling.

But feeling free to cut loose comes at a price. Fully 16% of travelers said they feel guilty if they enjoy themselves on the road. Age and experience help ease the guilt factor. While 30% of travelers 34 and younger felt guilty for having fun on the road, the guilty group fell to 16% for travelers 35-54. Just 10% of travelers 55 and older admitted to feeling guilty when they have fun on a business trip.

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