For many decades, if not centuries, traveling was considered to be a sort of privilege, accessible only to the wealthy and powerful, while others had to be content with seeing places of interest not far from their place of residence and engage in occasional trips to more distant places on special occasions only. However, invention of various convenient modes of traveling and a decrease in prices on accommodation and transport, as well as a shift in social attitudes encouraged more and more people to engage in traveling for various purposes, especially during the last two centuries. Nonetheless, these various purposes stimulating traveling were often clearly distinguished with tourism and business traveling being the most prevalent types of traveling. Recently, this demarcation line between different types of traveling has become extremely blurred, and modern people are multitasking and combining different jobs and purposes simultaneously. Time has become an essential and valuable commodity that cannot be wasted, which has virtually affected all life domains.
Moreover, the previous generation is slowly moving out of the workforce and retiring, while the millennials start playing a key role in business and other life spheres. Hence, it is also undeniable that the older generation, which is frequently called Baby Boomers in the USA, and the millennials, have different attitudes to business and traveling and the opinion if they can be combined or separated. Recent studies show, for instance, that the millennials are not satisfied with business travelling only, and tend to prefer combining leisure activities with their professional activities, thereby completely eliminating the line between business traveling and tourism. The matter is that contemporary business people can rarely afford taking lengthy vacations and they strive to remain always accessible to their employers, subordinates, and colleagues, as well as being able to arrange for personal business meetings, conference calls, and other business-related activities, even when they are formally on vacation. Therefore, it is possible to claim that, nowadays, going for trading or business is really traveling and can bring immense pleasure and exciting new experiences, while being beneficial for the professional life of individuals engaged in this kind of traveling.
In fact, tourism industry recognized potential and shifts, associated with transformation of going for business and trading into real traveling with immersion into local cultures and introduction of various leisure activities into business agendas at the beginning of the 21st century. There was a time, when it was declared that “business tourism is a lucrative, fast-growing segment of the world’s largest industry sector” and the evident challenge for business representatives was to “meet business travelers’ needs for both efficiency and relaxation” (International Trade Centre, 2001). The forecast about the growth of the sector has proved to be correct, as global business travel value is estimated at the level of $1.25 trillion in 2015 and is forecasted to continue growing (TripCase Crew, 2015). Future growth is predicted to stem from further increase in China business travel that has grown by 61% over the last 5 years and is forecasted to amount to $420 billion in 2019 (TripCase Crew, 2015). In addition, even though nowadays the USA, Western Europe, and China remain the leading business travel destinations, the situation is predicted to change in the nearest future with Turkey, Mexico, Indonesia, Poland, and Malaysia becoming rapidly developing and attractive business travel markets due to their current growth (TripCase Crew, 2015). As of the beginning of the 21st century, there still remained a relatively clear distinction between going for business and trading and traveling intended to bring pleasure and new experiences, even though this distinction had already been blurring gradually. Thus, as of 2001, business travels have accounted for about 9% of international travels and this figure kept increasing (International Trade Centre, 2001). However, even then, the tourism industry has recognized the presence of such peculiar and rapidly growing niche as business tourism defined as “leisure activities in conjunction with business travel” (International Trade Centre, 2001). It was also estimated that at the turn of the new century about two-thirds of all business travelers extended their business trips for pleasure and took their families with them on business trips to spend more time together (International Trade Centre, 2001). This meant that going for business and trading was conducted not purely for the purpose of promoting the business and fulfilling some professional objectives, but also for relaxation, fun, bonding with the family, socialization, and new experiences. All these features are typical for traveling, which proves that going for business is really traveling, irrespective of the fact that it envisions spending a considerable amount of time on negotiations, meetings, and other activities on the business agenda. The industry had to take into consideration this shift in the preferences of business people and have started offering special packages and deals that allow combining pleasure and business, turning business trips into an unforgettable traveling experience.
The above mentioned changes in market trends might have been insufficient to claim that business trips are really traveling, unless the image of a modern business traveler has not changed. Prior to describing the image of a millennial business traveler, it is worth noting that business travelers have always been considered as more profitable travelers than leisure tourists. The reason is that they have been less cost-sensitive and could spend twice as much as leisure tourists do per day (International Trade Centre, 2001). However, these expenses in the past were mainly associated with premium accommodations and eating preferences, as business travelers’ decisions relating to purchases were influenced by “their ability to use time efficiently within business travel schedules” (International Trade Centre, 2001). Moreover, a business traveler of an older generation tends to view business travel as “a necessary evil” (Roth, 2015). Some even consider business travelling to be “a form of triage, a never-ending quest for the least objectionable” and their “primary goal is to escape unscathed” (Schoenfeld, 2013). This old type of business travelling is prone to separate business and pleasure and can be rarely seen taking the most from their business trips, as they are reluctant to change and adapt their business agendas. They go out beyond their business schedules for relaxation and pleasure, which are an integral part of quality traveling experience, only when they have some free time in-between or after all their meetings. They even make lists of tips on how to make going for business and trading endurable and least stressful, for instance, recommending other business personal to stay packed, limit themselves to carry-on luggage, use perks and upgrades, schedule meetings tightly, and the like (Roth, 2015). These business travelers still occupy a large share of the total number of business travelers, but they have been gradually replaced by the new type of travelers for whom going for business and trading is really traveling. This new type is represented by the millennials or Generation Y that has been entering the workforce and rising to top executive positions, meanwhile changing the industry of business traveling and blurring the line between business and leisure tourists (Benckendorff et al., 2010). These business travelers of today and tomorrow are seen “operating in an ever-more fluid space, a world of blurred boundaries. They expect to move seamlessly from device-to-device; from online to offline and back again; from business to leisure and vice versa” (Expedia, Inc., 2013). It has also been revealed that business travelers, belonging to the generation of the millennials are “early adopters of mobile apps, social media and sharing economy services when traveling” (GBTA Foundation & American Express, 2015).
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It was recognized by leading industry companies that the millennials are “primed to travel. Just not in the same way as their parents” (MDG Advertising, 2015). It should also be noted that they not only combine business and pleasure, but also are cost-conscious and try to minimize expenses, when possible. The latter aspect is explained by the modern business people’s orientation at sustainability in everything their businesses do, including business traveling. Organizations have been widely developing and adopting sustainable business travel policies that take into consideration financial sustainability, social sustainability, and environmental sustainability (Transport for London, 2012). In addition to being expenses-conscious, representatives of the new type of business travelers are primarily composed of millennials, prefer speed, autonomy, and self-servicing that they can achieve through the use of various applications (Expedia, Inc., 2013). They do not like losing control over booking and traveling decisions by delegating them to someone else, which is why about 50% of all millennials traveling plan and book travels with the use of smartphones on their own (Expedia, Inc., 2013). Besides, they have high expectations relating to flexibility and quality for services they receive, including the ones relating to both leisure and business.
Hence, mobile devices, social media, all kinds of applications, and other contemporary practices are used by this new generation of business travelers who combine pleasure with business. Contrary to the old generation of business travelers, millennials and contemporary older business people, influenced by this shift in attitudes to business traveling, realize that going for business and trading may become an unforgettable, inspiring, and refreshing traveling experience. Some people who travel, are searching for an escape from their everyday existence. This escape can be provided by changing a location, road experience, meeting with new people, tasting new food, witnessing some unique local customs and traditions, or merely relaxing by playing golf or performing some other pleasurable activity. All aforementioned activities can be smoothly integrated into business traveling experience and complement the latter with a view to making it enjoyable. Modern business travelers “desire the new and novel, and crave the unexpected”, which is a craving, typical for anyone fond of traveling (MDG, 2015). They also “want meaningful travel experiences and demand the distinct and different” (MDG, 2015). The industry has realized the significance of current changes and opportunities offered by customizing services to accommodate the preferences of the new generation of business travelers who have at least five business trips per year, most of which are abroad travels. Hence, hotel chains, like Renaissance Hotels and Marriott, acknowledge the reality that today’s business travelers see “travel as an opportunity to experience something new and unexpected” and design their facilities to ensure that business travelers “come away with a new perspective – whether that’s from experiencing the local neighborhood around out hotel or simply stumbling into a live performance, a mixology demonstration or an art exhibit in the programmed public spaces” (Marriott, 2015). Most hotel suits can be easily transformed into meeting rooms and mini-offices, which proves that business travelers demand a combination of relaxation and business (Jumeirah, 2015). All these changes and innovations introduced by hotels, carriers, and other businesses interested in catering to business and leisure travelers have been explicitly demanded by contemporary travelers, who expect the best customer experience for the best and most reasonable value.
As mentioned above, modern business people view business trips as an opportunity to spend time with their families and socialize with new people. In terms of the former, business people take their spouses and children with them when traveling on business purposes and spend free time engaging in activities typical for leisure traveling and even extend their business trips into leisure trips (MDG, 2015). Therefore, the popularity of various shortened sightseeing tours, offered directly at hotels, golf courses, diving courses, nanny’s services, and other services demanded by tourists has been exponentially growing among business travelers. A conventional assumption of the past, that a person going for business should be engaged solely in business activities, has already become a thing of past. The matter is that modern business people are used to multitask, which is significantly facilitated by various new gadgets and smartphone applications, which is why, combining business and pleasure has become not only possible, but also desirable. Modern business travelers believe that having fun and enjoying oneself for some time can boost productivity, increase motivation, and benefit business meetings and negotiations. Therefore, top executives and ordinary employees, as a rule, free some time to get acquainted with new cities and countries they visit, attend a local restaurant, go in for their favorite sport, or merely relax in some way before, in-between, or after business meetings and activities that have been the primary reason for traveling. Besides, the current business world is changing at an ever-increasing pace and business people have to be constantly tuned in to the changes and market shifts, so that they can respond to them in a timely and effective manner. Thus, taking a full-time vacation, at least on an annual basis, may be an impossible task for the overwhelming majority of successful professionals, who are individuals most frequently going on business trips. This way, combining business trips with leisure traveling may be the only way for them to relax, replenish their internal forces, and remain successful in their professional activities. Balancing between work and family has also become less of a problem for modern business travelers due to their popular trend of taking families on business trips.
In terms of socialization, it is an integral part of traveling and it has been increasingly recognized as a vital part of business traveling. In addition to meeting business contacts and colleagues, modern business travelers want to meet local citizens who may tell them a lot about local cultures and places of interest of their business destinations. For this purpose, business travelers have been relying on different applications labeled as “social curation tools” that “are helping guests to network, share, and discover the best of the city on the go” (PSFK Labs, 2014). These applications solve the problem posed by the lack of time that is “a familiar challenge to the modern business traveler looking to maximize the experiences offered by a new city, alongside the demands of work and meetings” (PSFK Labs, 2014). For instance, IMGuest.com allows business travelers to stay at a hotel and find people with similar interests, e-mail them directly with an invitation to meet up. This way, business travelers have a unique opportunity to both forge new business connections and expand their social network, while avoiding the feeling of isolation and loneliness that have been previously associated with business trips. This shift has also contributed to blurring the line between going for business and leisure traveling.
Overall, business traveling has undergone a significant transformation in the recent past, which now allows claiming that going for trading and business is really traveling. The matter is that modern business travelers do not merely seek for an opportunity to advance their business interests and view a business trip as a useful instrument of doing that through personal meetings with prospective and existing business partners. On the contrary, they consider business trips to be a unique opportunity to gain a superb, exciting, invigorating, and motivating traveling experience. The combination of business meeting with leisure activities complies with the current need to be able to multitask and smoothly shift from one kind of activity to another without problems. The pace of business world has been increasing with an extremely rapid rate and business trips have, thus, become the only way most business people can have some time away from offices, find inspiration, and relax. Traveling has always been about gaining new experience that can promote individual’s development and enrich his/her worldview, as well as bring immense pleasure and enjoyment. Since modern business traveling does all that and much more, it can be deemed as traveling, rather than some work-related burdensome task that going for business and trading was in the past.