A New Era Of Business Travel

Free drinks in first class, five-star restaurants and breathtaking views from the hotel balcony. All too often, business travel is depicted as something glamorous. Don’t get me wrong, it can be. But there’s also the frequent reality of fast food and flight delays, missing putting your kids to bed and nights spent tossing and turning in a bed that isn’t your own. 

With this in mind, it’s no surprise that business travel can literally kill you. In his paper, “A Darker Side of Hypermobility,” researcher Scott Cohen analyzes the effects of frequent work-related travel. Based on 15 years of data, Cohen determined that frequent business travelers tend to weigh more, age faster, have weaker immune systems and suffer from mental illnesses like depression and anxiety. This is the result of a combination of factors including lack of sleep and physical activity, poor nutrition, excessive drinking, stress and loneliness. 



Suddenly, business travel isn’t looking too hot. 

So, let’s shift gears and talk about what is hot: juicing, CrossFit, acai bowls, coconut water, interval training, yoga, wearable technology — the health and wellness movement is spreading like fire. Boomers and Gen Xers are joining in, but Millennials are undoubtedly dominating.

In a recent survey of 18 - 34 year olds, 79% of participants agree that family is important to them, followed by health and wellness at 53%, friends at 39%, spirituality at 31% and work at 27%. In other words, besides family, Millennials value health more than anything else. 

Another trend fueled by the Millennial demographic is wellness travel. Associated with the goal of maintaining or enhancing one’s personal well-being, this new breed of travel is on the rise. According to Spafinder Wellness 365, younger travelers seek things like clean cuisine, high-tech exercise facilities, complimentary fitness classes and spa services when planning a trip.

Let’s break down the facts:

  • According to the U.S. Travel Association, spending on business travel totaled $269.3 billion in 2015 with U.S. residents logging 459.4 million business trips.
  • The Boston Consulting Group predicts that Millennials will account for 50% of all business travel spending by 2020.
  • Goldman Sachs says that to Millennials, “healthy” means eating right and being physically active on a daily basis. 

This emerging market has huge potential. Millions of Millennials want to further their careers while maintaining their healthy habits. And I’m right there with them. Why should we throw away our diets and workout regimens the second our plane hits the runway? Thankfully, brands are taking note of this unmet need.

Earlier this year, hotelier Westin completely reinvented its visual identity around health and wellness. The hotel now offers a workout equipment lending program, a “Sleep Well” menu comprised of sleep-aiding superfoods and a concierge service that directs guests to local running routes. Its ads feature young runners, colorful salads and herbal teas. The brand’s new taglines, “Sleep Well, Feel Well, Eat Well, Move Well, Work Well and Play Well” aren’t necessarily brilliant, but they align the values of its Millennial target market.

And if you think Uber is great, check out the growing crop of on-demand wellness apps. The “Uberization” of spa and wellness services was a top 10 trend in Spafinder Wellness 365’s 2016 Trends report. If you’re on the road and in need of a little R&R, leading massage-on-demand app Zeel connects you to over 5,000 vetted massage therapists, seven days a week. Apps Handstand and Vint promise to deliver personal trainers to your doorstop when and where you need them. And for a $99 flat fee, Heal will send a doctor right to your door, bedside manner included.

Millennials want to further their careers, but they are not blind to the detriment of frequent traveling. Brands like Westin and Zeel are on the right track. By catering to young healthy-minded professionals and opening up in major metros, these brands are capitalizing on a new, highly profitable era of business travel.

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