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The new comfort of business travel.

Business travel has become so prevalent that a significant percentage of corporate America spends more time on flights and in hotels than in their cars or on their couches. The Travel Industry of America estimates that, in 2004, 38 million U.S. adults made at least one business trip to a destination that was at least 50 miles away from home. Over 20% of trips taken by African Americans are work-related.

If travel isn't a regular part of your job, the thought of packing a bag and flying to work might seem glamorous. However, people who take regular business trips quickly identify the stressful elements of a business jaunt, which relies on a delicate combination of several components--including forces of nature--to ensure a safe and hassle-free journey.

Where Is Everyone Going, And What Are They Doing?

According to The 2005 National Business Travel Monitor, a recent study released by Yesawich, Pepperdine, Brown & Russell/Yankelovich Partners (YPBR), conferences and association meetings comprise the highest incidence of business travel (58%), followed by individual business travel (43%) and corporate meetings (29%).Within the United States, the most popular cities for business travel are:

1. Chicago

2. LA/Long Beach

3. Washington, D.C.

4. New York

5. Atlanta

6. Houston

7. Boston (metro area)

8. Minneapolis-St. Paul

9. Dallas

10. Detroit

Regardless of the destination, business trips are rarely enjoyable. The frequent business traveler requires special amenities. Hotels and airline carriers have increased service levels to cater to the growing needs of business travelers:

Online Reservation and Ticketing Capabilities

It is common for corporate travelers to research their own fares and make reservations online. In The Business Travel Monitor, it was determined that 32% of business travelers use travel agents when making reservations. The remainder (68%) favored the internet or an online service to plan some aspect of a business trip. Business travelers are technologically savvy, and prefer to handle all facets of travel arrangements online, having limited interaction with travel agents and customer service professionals.

Popular tourism sites are those that allow one-stop travel shopping for flights, hotels, and ground transportation. Airline websites, such as American and Delta, have incorporated features that locate economical airline fares, hotels and rental cars.

Travelers are only a few clicks away from planning an entire trip, including seating assignments, confirmation on special meal requests, and an e-mail or text message that will confirm the status of their flight and departure information. Most sites offer printable boarding passes and online check-ins with in 24 hours of flight departure.

Upon arrival at the airport, hurried travelers opt for check-in kiosks to enjoy a shorter line, and obtain boarding passes and seating arrangements.

Frequent Flyer Miles, Comfortable Seating, and Automatic Upgrades

The biggest perk of business travel is the accumulation of points that can be redeemed for vacations. Whenever possible, travelers look for hotels that offer a generous points program.

Frequent flyers prefer automatic upgrades and airplane comfort, e.g. ample leg room and additional overhead storage. Business and frequent traveler programs like Continental Airline's EliteAccess provide luxuries such as a no-middle-seat guarantee, and, when possible, first class upgrades.

Value

Companies are tightening their belts, and business travelers are looking for ways to maximize their per diems.

The Embassy Suites hotels provide free continental breakfasts each morning. Wyndham's WyndhamByRequest service offers its members several gratis advantages, including a welcome snack, and free local and long distance calls. Hyatt offers complimentary newspapers and coffee and/or tea to Gold Passport members.

Having a Home Away from Home

Business travelers spend so much time on the road that they seek services that simulate the comforts of home.

During waiting times for flight departure, business travelers gravitate to lounges, such as the Delta Airlines Crown Room Club or the American Airlines Admirals Club, located in the airports of several major cities. Members can escape from loud and uncomfortable terminals while enjoying personalized travel assistance, complimentary soft drinks, television programming, free local telephone calls, and high-speed internet connectivity.

Hotels are chosen primarily for location and value, although the most popular accommodations will also include an assortment of homey comforts. Quality name-brand toiletries, good coffee, comfortable beds, a wide array of cable television or film options, flexible check in/check-out and exercise facilities are common requests.

Broadband internet access, once a perk, has been elevated to a "must have" when selecting a business travel hotel.

Hotels have added features to attract the business traveler. Doubletree Hotels provide custom bedding, leading-edge business technology, and a delectable chocolate chip cookie at check-in. Wyndham Hotels boasts ubiquitous high speed internet technology, and personalized service for WyndhamByRequest members, who can select preferred room location, pillows, and customized snacks, among other things.

With the proper accommodations, business travel could be indistinguishable from leisure travel. If only work wasn't a requirement!
COPYRIGHT 2005 Earl G. Graves Publishing Co., Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2005, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Barge, Gina P.
Publication:Black Enterprise
Article Type:Advertisement
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 1, 2005
Words:801
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