According to new research that captured data from more than 1,000 of the nation’s most frequent business travelers, time on the road adds value to their lives beyond business and is a source of personal happiness. The first-of-its-kind study, conducted by Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott, explored the emotions of the nation’s most experienced road warriors before, during and after a business trip.
“We feel the best way to help our guests succeed is to understand how they operate, so we can maximize their experience at our hotels,” said Shruti Buckley, vice president and global brand manager, Fairfield Inn & Suites. “They demand an environment that allows them to be productive, yet one that is also inviting, upbeat and personal, so that’s what we deliver.”
Key Finding 1: Frequent Business Travel Enhances Your Life
Along with its ability to boost one’s professional development, the study found that frequent business travel has significant personal benefits.
• 76 percent of respondents reported that because they travel for business, they simply feel more prepared in life.
• 86 percent of respondents report that because they travel for business, they value time with family and friends more.
• 83 percent value their own personal time more.
• 92 percent say that taking business trips has made them a better overall traveler.
• 76 percent claim their friends view them as expert travelers.
“The overwhelming majority of travelers are satisfied or very satisfied with the amount they travel for business, which says a lot about the personal benefits to business travel,” said Buckley. “Thirty percent would even like to travel more often.”
Key Finding 2: Frequent Business Travel Leads to Happiness
Frequent business travelers experience positive emotions, such as happiness and confidence, on the road.
Despite experiencing travel delays, missing their families, pets and home-cooked meals, losing their luggage or even skipping a family event, the vast majority of frequent business travelers report positive emotions when preparing for (86 percent) and during (88 percent) a trip. The most common emotions reported include feeling confident, knowledgeable, interested, calm, excited, eager, well-connected and happy.
“While more than half of frequent business travelers say they work twice as much when on the road, they also experience a certain feeling of freedom,” said Buckley. “Sixty percent report feeling free to do whatever they want, which is empowering, as is getting their job done.”
Some frequent business travelers might be smiling because they often travel with a colleague. According to those who travel with others, there are both physical and psychological benefits to companion business travel, including:
Having someone to talk to (52 percent);
Sharing a workload (43 percent);
Getting more work done (42 percent);
Having more fun (39 percent);
Building friendships (37 percent);
Feeling less lonely (27 percent) and,
Feeling safer (27 percent).
Other frequent business travelers’ happiness might stem from the aspects of travel they qualify as most enjoyable, such as experiencing new places, meeting new people, going out to eat, earning mileage or loyalty points, trying new foods, not going into the office, spending time alone and meeting up with friends. Twenty-one percent enjoy the fact that they can get more work done on the road. Fifty-nine percent say coming home from a trip is like a honeymoon with their spouse.
Key Finding 3: Frequent Business Travelers Can Teach Us A Lot
Study participants provided insights into strategies for success on the road.
Not surprisingly, when preparing for an average business trip, frequent business travelers report feeling prepared (62 percent) and confident (54 percent). The study unearthed some tips and tricks of the trade, from knowing where the local grocery store is to creating a workout routine so they can maintain their weight.
“We credit our frequent guests with developing best practices for business travel,” said Buckley. “And, we’re setting out to share their know-how with everyone who travels for business.”
For example, some of the most frequent business travelers create an “always pack list” to make preparation easier. And, in addition to cell phones, computers and reading material, items that frequent business travelers always keep on hand include business cards, medication, nutritional supplements, power cords and snacks. Activities they prioritize when notified of a trip include booking a hotel and travel arrangements, checking the weather and obtaining seasonally-appropriate attire, paying bills, and taking care of pets.
The majority of frequent business travelers (74 percent) also keep in touch with their friends and family at least once per day using cell phones, email, text messaging, social networks, instant messaging and Skype.
From photos to pillows, almost half (49 percent) bring a personal item along with them to remind them of home.
Fairfield Inn & Suites conducted this research study to discover how frequent business travel impacts one’s perspective on work, home life and personal well-being. An online survey of 1,001 frequent U.S. business travelers was conducted from May 1-11, 2012, using the field services of TNS. The margin of error for this sample is +/- 3.1 percent at the 95 percent confidence level.
Photo: Fairfield Inn and Suites, Columbus, Miss.