Introduction to Travel Patterns and Destinations
While the tourism industry focuses on recreational travellers, it is important to remember that business travellers are also technically tourists. The World Tourism Organisation defines tourists as people that travel for “leisure, business and other purposes". Business travellers are a vital source of income for airlines, hotels and all tourism focused businesses. It is important that all such businesses understand the different types of business travellers and how best to appeal to them. Since the 1960s, travel patterns have emerged amongst business travellers. Today, there are four types of business trip:
Regular Business Travel
Regular Business Travel
Business is one of the main reasons people travel. Indeed, one in every five trips taken in Canada and the United States is for business reasons.
Both airlines and hotels offer services especially for business people. Airlines offer a “business class” service with increased legroom and personal media monitors. Furthermore, the service includes amenities that appeal directly to business people, such as laptop charging points and wireless internet access. Furthermore, the comfort and space of business class allows business people to work readily and/or gain some rest.
Today, most hotels have executive rooms that cater for business travellers. These rooms include large desks, couches and free broadband internet access. Indeed, some hotels are designed especially for single business travellers, for example, the Courtyard brand of Marriot hotels. High ranking employees often stay in “executive suites”. These rooms offer luxury in addition to business amenities.
Both airlines and hotels make special efforts to appeal to business travellers. Business travellers tend to be well educated, affluent, have high-level jobs and fly often. Their profile makes them excellent people in which to instil customer loyalty.
Frequent-flyer and frequent-stay programs have been developed to encourage business travellers to favour particular airlines and hotel chains. By flying a certain number of miles/kilometres or staying for a specific number of days, the traveller can choose a bonus flight or hotel stay.
For example, after 45,000 miles (72,420 kilometres) of travel on United Airlines, frequent flyers can claim a first-class ticket within the United States, Canada, or Mexico.
About 20% of all business trips are for the purpose of attending business conventions.
Corporate conventions are held by companies to deal with specific business concerns. At these conventions, senior staff meet to discuss the major issues affecting the company and the industry as a whole. In addition, many businesses host private conventions once a year in which management meets with corporate staff.
Conventions can be international, continental, national or regional. International conventions involve participants from more than two foreign nations and take place in different countries each year. For example, the International Association of Scientific Experts in Tourism has met in Europe, Africa and North America in recent years.
Continental conventions limit their meetings to one continent. The Travel and Tourism Research Association only hosts meetings in the United States and Canada. National conventions are held in the country in which a company is registered.
It is estimated that corporations spend over $11 billion on conventions annually. On average, convention attendees spend half of their budget on accommodation, 25% on food and just over 10% on retail purchases.
Some companies use travel as an incentive for employees to perform to a higher level. For example, a company may have a sales contest to increase sales volume. Quotas will be set for sales staff and those that surpass their quota by a set amount are eligible for the trip. Most incentive trips last five days and are most commonly sun holidays.
A number of specialised companies design incentive programs for corporations. In the USA, many incentive travel companies belong to the Society of Incentive Travel Executives (SITE). These companies act as tour wholesalers. Buying for a group, they can negotiate special rates from the airlines, hotels and ground transportation companies they deal with. They add a 15% to 20% mark-up for their services and costs in packaging the trip.
A hybrid trip is one in which the traveller combines business and pleasure. This can be done in a number of ways:
For example, a business traveller can bring their spouse on the trip. The spouse will be a pleasure traveller and as such will adopt a vacation mentality. This will help the business traveller to relax once they have completed their work duties.
Secondly, the traveller may decide to stay on after a meeting. Approximately 20 per cent of business travellers add vacation days to business trips. In doing so, business travellers can explore the tourist attractions of their destination.
It is common for business travellers to return to business destinations. One-third of business travellers take vacations where they had previously attended meetings or conventions.
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