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Sokes
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Is business travel enjoyable?

Wed Feb 17, 2021 4:20 am

Since so many are convinced that business travel won't return any time soon, a few questions.

a) Engineers and technical personnel:
Can they solve the work via video conference?

b) Marketing:
How important is the personal factor in sales discussions?

c) business owners:
Many have enough money. They are achievement oriented and enjoy the fruits of success as much or more than the money. Is business travel their way of life or would they prefer to settle things from the office?
 
Cubsrule
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Re: Is business travel enjoyable?

Wed Feb 17, 2021 4:33 am

There are essentially four categories:

1) Work that can’t be done without travel;

2) Work that travel makes much easier;

3) Work for which we used to travel but where travel really isn’t necessary; and

4) Work connected logistically with travel (e.g. I’m in L.A. on Tuesday and need to meet with someone in Phoenix on Wednesday. I might stop in to see her on the way home even if our business could be done over Zoom if I wasn’t in L.A. anyway.)

I expect the amount of work in each of these four categories varies quite a bit from person to person and industry to industry.
 
PSU.DTW.SCE
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Re: Is business travel enjoyable?

Wed Feb 17, 2021 4:37 am

a) no - hence why I've still been traveling throughout a good portion of the past year. Machines/equipment, things, production lines, tooling all are best viewed and worked on in-person in the manufacturing facility. Yes, we can do a lot via conference call / Zoom, but to an extent. Trying to get all the right people in a manufacturing facility on a call to have the right discussion with the right information at the right time is nearly impossible.

b) I don't do a ton of this, but when I get pulled into it, I've found that short meetings can easily be handled remotely, but when you have to do 1-2 day long assessments and scoping/planning you really need to go on-site, walk the site, meet the stakeholders to develop an effective proposal and then close the deal.

c) Yes and no. I've done crazy amounts of travel, in my 20s / early 30s. I had years of 40+ weeks traveling. I enjoyed it but it was too much. I enjoy my current amount of travel of about every other week and most trips are 1-2 nights. I try to alternate day or day-driving trips in between thus so I can be home more than not. Enough travel to keep it interesting. I find I can focus a lot easier when traveling. A lot easier to knock out a bunch of work in the evening in the hotel room than when at home. When I'm traveling I'm at work, when I'm home I try to be present. I also do enjoy exploring places when I travel, meeting other people, connecting with colleagues and customers.
 
davidjohnson6
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Re: Is business travel enjoyable?

Wed Feb 17, 2021 7:36 am

There's also the times when one person just can't be bothered to spend the time on solving an issue with colleagues (or otherwise spend time engaging with them) if it's via a Zoom call.... but when people turn up in their office in person it becomes socially impossible to keep saying "I'm busy" and ignore them.
 
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eta unknown
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Re: Is business travel enjoyable?

Wed Feb 17, 2021 3:46 pm

Travelling on somebody else's dime is always enjoyable. Unfortunately, so many largo corporations have cut travel by 50% (essential trips only) that it's unlikely former corporate travel levels will return to anything close to normal in the short term.
 
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CV990A
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Re: Is business travel enjoyable?

Wed Feb 17, 2021 4:34 pm

As someone who had been on the road for work 50% of the time, it gets old, especially when you are travelling to the same city every other week. The excitement factor only came into play when I was going to a different location that week. Although people tend to look at you funny when you say "Yay! I'm going to Huntsville instead!"
 
FGITD
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Re: Is business travel enjoyable?

Wed Feb 17, 2021 7:03 pm

CV990A wrote:
As someone who had been on the road for work 50% of the time, it gets old, especially when you are travelling to the same city every other week. The excitement factor only came into play when I was going to a different location that week. Although people tend to look at you funny when you say "Yay! I'm going to Huntsville instead!"


Even more fun when you work for an airline, in a non flight crew role but still in airport operations. Get to go all over the place, different states, countries etc. and never leave the airport. In one case they even put me up in a hotel on the secure side for a quick trip.
 
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BubbleFrog
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Re: Is business travel enjoyable?

Thu Feb 18, 2021 12:47 pm

I've always liked it.
Yes, it's boring when you're going to the same destination for a while.
Yes, it's a hassle when you have really early starts.
Hotels can be annoying, company apartments even more so.
Colleagues can be pain. So can clients.

But I do find the human interaction quite important. You can do a lot of things without it, but it makes it usually easier and more enjoyable.

And more often than not, you get on a plane. Worth it.
 
IAHFLYR
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Re: Is business travel enjoyable?

Thu Feb 18, 2021 3:13 pm

I just love travel completely, though with COVID it will now be a year on 2/23 since we've graced the door of a plane.

Travel for business was necessary as I was involved in software testing for the ATC side of the FAA, so we had to travel to ACY anywhere from 8-12 times a year depending on how many software updates were required for the ATC system. No possible way for us on the test team to see what they built based upon our requirements if we didn't go up to the Tech Center. Our team always had great hotels and we all got along quite well, yes even 10 controllers plus about 10 techs and five or so software people from the contractor.

Also did traveling for charting things, some of which could be done via conf calls though it was much better use of time to simply visit the charting/procedures offices. Either go to the Regional Office (for the Houston area) in FTW or go up to the Washington, D.C., area to sit face to face with those non-ATC types explaining what we needed to have done even though it would require a change in their criteria, it seemed to work best. Getting the right mix of high strung ATC folks to agree on anything is always a full steam ahead challenge we had the right mix as well as Team Lead otherwise it would have been complete chaos. :hissyfit:

More business travel to industry task force meetings couple of times a year, no way to have 100 folks on a conf call and even think about getting anything accomplished. Though you had a room full of NBAA, ALPA, SWAPA, APA pilots, charting folks, Flight Standards, FAA HQ and a few lowly ATC kids it mostly was very productive.

In summary, business travel in my world was all technical stuff so yes for almost all of it was necessary.
 
VSMUT
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Re: Is business travel enjoyable?

Thu Feb 18, 2021 7:15 pm

It definitely can be very enjoyable. 13 hour business class trip on the likes of Singapore Airlines, followed by a couple of nights in a 5-star Westin or Marriott, with a few afternoons and possibly even a full day to go sightseeing, and skipping all airport queues thanks to not only your business ticket but also your frequent flyer card, that is pretty enjoyable. If on the other hand you are travelling on a budget airline, in the middle seat of a 737, hanging around in noisy, crowded terminals with endless queues, sleeping in no-frills hotels with rooms barely big enough to open your suitcase, in boring destinations or with no time to see the sights, then no, business travel probably isn't going to be very enjoyable, at least not for very long.
 
PlymSpotter
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Re: Is business travel enjoyable?

Fri Feb 19, 2021 11:47 am

Sokes wrote:
b) Marketing:
How important is the personal factor in sales discussions?


It depends on the nature of the business and size of the deal but, ultimately, people buy from people. My background is in technology (SaaS), where a primary part of your job as a salesperson is to bring together the two coal faces of your business and the clients business, so that the right stakeholders at all levels and technical abilities are engaged and talking to each other. I find the most effective method to engage these stakeholders is face to face around a table - the teams working behind me don't need to have all met, but if I'm running a deal I want to know all the stakeholders and for them to know me.

Sokes wrote:
c) business owners:
Many have enough money. They are achievement oriented and enjoy the fruits of success as much or more than the money. Is business travel their way of life or would they prefer to settle things from the office?


I want to be out there championing my business and my solution. As a CEO, you're paid to be the public face of the company - this is especially important if you are a start-up or in growth mode. Being visible at events and making connections is paramount, which often means travel is necessary.
 
bennett123
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Re: Is business travel enjoyable?

Fri Feb 19, 2021 3:27 pm

I had a contract in 2014 which entailed going up to Edinburgh on Sunday and returning home on Friday.

Most flights were from BRS with Easyjet, or BHX with Flybe, however, I did try LHR with Virgin Red and LCY with BA Connect. Neither of the London routes was a success.

Flying was cheaper than going by train, and avoided the need to change en route. Furthermore, time spent airside with my camera was a bonus.

So I would say enjoyable up to a point.
 
Sokes
Topic Author
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Re: Is business travel enjoyable?

Fri Feb 19, 2021 4:54 pm

Interesting to read all your statements compared to the usual pessimism about business travel here on a.net.
I never fly business, but I had/ have a feeling everything (or nearly so) will just go back to normal.
 
GalaxyFlyer
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Re: Is business travel enjoyable?

Fri Feb 19, 2021 10:12 pm

I doubt more than 2/3rds of the 2019 business travel will come back. I’ve now done a year without even going to the local office and, mostly, things run fine. Oh, the senior mgt types and international will eventually come around, but the days of team “off sites” are gone unless there’s a very specific reason for in-person. I just did a three-day professional education program, all on Zoom, hardly missed not being in-person, other than going out to dinner at a new restaurant. Too much money saved on travel, tech has gotten too good, management sees savings in office space, travel budgets, and people.
 
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LAXintl
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Re: Is business travel enjoyable?

Fri Feb 19, 2021 11:32 pm

For over a decade, I have been doing near 200,000 butt in seat mile annually, largely international long haul. I have not flown since February 2020, and honestly don't miss it much.

Sure it can be fun to dine out in Tokyo or Singapore, but after your 5th visit in a year, it can get old. Travel takes a toll, be it on the body with jetlag, sleep, exercise, and on the family with being gone regularly for a week at a time.

Instead, I am enjoying being home, sleeping in my own bed, being able to enjoy time and watching family grow, being able to exercise and keep healthy and pursue hobbies which rarely had time prior for.

Workwise not much has impacted. Most has been accomplished quite easily working from home. Yes might need to do a call at 10pm, to meet with someone on the other side of the planet, but its a small price to pay.

As far as corporations, I dont see many rushing to employees back on the road. Just this week my wife's company part of a global consumer goods company announced they extended the corporate travel ban and work from home until September 1st.

Even when travel comes back, I honestly see companies being more judicious in their use of travel. This last year has proven that many things that previously were handled face to face, can indeed be accomplished remotely without too much negative repercussions. I dont know if this means 10, 20 or 50% reduction overall, but I am pretty sure the permanent trim in travel is here.
 
GalaxyFlyer
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Re: Is business travel enjoyable?

Sat Feb 20, 2021 4:12 am

According to the NBAA, private jet travel is nearly back to normal. Trades in late model planes are happening including a lightly used G500 and Praetor. I suspect more first-time buyers will move into the market. Both Gulfstream and Bombardier have seen first-time buyers start out in top-of-the-line planes.
 
bennett123
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Re: Is business travel enjoyable?

Sat Feb 20, 2021 8:43 am

IMO, private jet travel and 'normal' business travel are two different markets.

For those at the top, travel is also status.
 
GalaxyFlyer
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Re: Is business travel enjoyable?

Sat Feb 20, 2021 4:21 pm

bennett123 wrote:
IMO, private jet travel and 'normal' business travel are two different markets.

For those at the top, travel is also status.


Yes and no. Yes, very different models and costs. No, the patterns roughly follow each other. Business jets barely moved last year at many operators. Often, it’s not a status issue as much as, “I don’t want to spend time away anymore than absolutely necessary. Hence, you have trips to Asia with 12 hours on the ground or day trips NYC to LA, out at breakfast, home to put the children to bed.
 
VSMUT
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Re: Is business travel enjoyable?

Sat Feb 20, 2021 5:55 pm

GalaxyFlyer wrote:
bennett123 wrote:
IMO, private jet travel and 'normal' business travel are two different markets.

For those at the top, travel is also status.


Yes and no. Yes, very different models and costs. No, the patterns roughly follow each other. Business jets barely moved last year at many operators. Often, it’s not a status issue as much as, “I don’t want to spend time away anymore than absolutely necessary. Hence, you have trips to Asia with 12 hours on the ground or day trips NYC to LA, out at breakfast, home to put the children to bed.


I think many overestimate the status and luxury of business jets. The vast majority of the worlds business jet fleet is of smaller types ala the Citation family, Learjets, Challengers, Hawkers etc. Having had a chance to hitch a ride on some from time to time, they are definitely more for convenient and fast travel than status or luxury. For sure a nice experience, but most Asian full service carriers have better seats and service on their short haul jets than what you get in mid to small business jets.
 
johns624
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Re: Is business travel enjoyable?

Sat Feb 20, 2021 7:30 pm

bennett123 wrote:
IMO, private jet travel and 'normal' business travel are two different markets.

For those at the top, travel is also status.
I knew a Chrysler exec who actually preferred commercial travel. He said that the meetings had to end on time so that he could make his flight. When he flew corporate, they could drag on because the plane would always wait.
 
GalaxyFlyer
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Re: Is business travel enjoyable?

Sat Feb 20, 2021 10:46 pm

Nothing tells people you are rich and important like saying, “I just flew in on my private jet”. But, as to luxury, small jets true, but a Gulfstream or Global is pretty luxurious and the convenience and privacy is a luxury all its own—no security lines, Customs and Passport Control meets you, leave car at front door, throw keys at FBO clerk, board plane with #1 engine turning as the door closes.
 
mxaxai
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Re: Is business travel enjoyable?

Tue Feb 23, 2021 10:06 pm

For conferences and trade fairs, yes, you can do all your work via a video call. In fact, I prefer presentations online because I can hop from one "room" to another much more easily. Also, no travel or accomodation costs.

But what's lacking are the activities outside of the official program, meeting old acquaintances and getting to know new people, having fun, seeing the local culture. Interaction with exhibits is very limited. For marketing, there are much fewer possible ways to grab someone's attention.

These activities will return, I'm certain.
 
FlyHappy
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Re: Is business travel enjoyable?

Wed Feb 24, 2021 5:39 am

Sokes wrote:
Since so many are convinced that business travel won't return any time soon, a few questions.

a) Engineers and technical personnel:
Can they solve the work via video conference?



Speaking to this, I'd say that "not exactly" . There still needs to be hands on the gear... BUT.... there has been and will continue to be a push to utilize more local human resources (ie, a locally contracted partner type thing) to act as remote hands/eyes under guidance from a distance.

Also, because some of my work is for clients (vs internal projects) - it turns out they have greatly reduced expectation to ask me/pay for my travel (after all, they are doing little of it within their own organization), so its really kind of a domino effect. Even if travel to work for a client is the best way to do the project, they are asking for it far, far less.... and I don't see that nearly coming back to the same level as before. We have simply had to adapt to a business environment where we can still service our clients, while traveling to them far less often; some are technical solutions (literally equipment we ship and operate remotely, think "drone"), some are sales/marketing solutions (I can't speak to that, though I know its a thing).

Oh - and as to the "enjoyable" factor... maybe 1 out of 10 of my biz travel trips were to anyplace interesting or would provide a new experience, so I don't really miss it. I'd happily still fly if I could at least get a little variety of aircraft or airports at a bare minimum... but its been nothing but the same same for a decade; that gets boring quick.
 
MD8090orDRIVE
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Re: Is business travel enjoyable?

Wed Feb 24, 2021 3:50 pm

I love business travel, I am a tennis umpire so hawkeye live or HEL as we call it has hurt my top level pro assignments but lower level pro and college keeps me going 25 to 30 weeks a year. I love flying always have and there are a few places and resturants I look forward to in every city. The one thing I know for sure is every Thursday evening and Monday morning I am going to be connecting in Atlanta.
 
flipdewaf
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Re: Is business travel enjoyable?

Wed Feb 24, 2021 4:56 pm

Yes, I'd say it is enjoyable. There has been a lot of good insights in this thread and I cant say there has been much disagreement from myself. There is a lot of personal opinion as to how one conducts their own business and what methods they use to achieve their goals. It's very easy for someone to drum down why travel isn't needed for a particular purpose and it is harder to justify why it is needed, anything that can be explained in a sentence can then be done by a virtual method but somethings that happen on a personal basis or through being in an environment make all the difference. How many of you would spend over a $1m on a house without actually seeing it in person? would one then not expect a business to make sure those things of that magnitude are sorted by someone traveling?

Just yesterday my team and I had a very good conversation about the return to the office/research facility after Covid and whilst we are all likely to continue doing a significant amount of work at home we want to be back in the office 2-3 days a week for the personal interaction. My colleague made a really astute observation, he hadn't seen a single heated argument for the last year with remote video calling, the face on the screen with the inherent latency and missing of body language and slight disconnection lacks a trigger for emotional responses for good dialogue. in the world of internet forums we can boil it down to cold hard rational decisions based on facts but the reality is much more woolly.

Traveling the world long haul in a bed stopping at top class hotels and eating at top restaurants all on someone else's dime is great! but whats also great is getting up early to take a dawn flight in the middle seat of a narrowbody to then hire a car and drive to the back of nowhere to a brown industrial unit where behind the blue roller shutter door on a rainy February afternoon you find a fantastic group of people who are quietly changing a bit of the world you didn't even know mattered to you. Its all good.

Fred
 
ExpatVet
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Re: Is business travel enjoyable?

Mon Mar 01, 2021 9:05 am

flipdewaf wrote:
you find a fantastic group of people who are quietly changing a bit of the world you didn't even know mattered to you. Its all good.

Fred


Absolutely beautiful. Well said.
 
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PITingres
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Re: Is business travel enjoyable?

Mon Mar 01, 2021 7:15 pm

From a software development viewpoint: yes, remote work works (I've done it for years). There's a caveat, though, which is that it helps enormously if you've had a chance to meet the rest of the team face to face at least once, and ideally more than that. Before the pandemic, I tried to visit with various overseas teams at least once a year, and 2-3 times a year was better. Now, there are people that I'm working with who I've never really met; we get on well but it's definitely more effort.

What really suffers are the multi-day meetings. You simply can't replace 4 days of everyone in the room, with multiple days of 3-hour telemeetings.

My typical business travel was 6-8x/year, international, long flights / various connections / a week minimum, and my company doesn't do business class for anyone (not even executives). I've really enjoyed some of the places I've been, and I like new places, but I'm glad I didn't have to do it more than I was, pre-pandemic. I don't expect any return to face-to-face this year; next year, I'm hoping that the working group meetings are back to in-person. The in-company onsite travel will be slow to return.

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