A recent survey by Choice Hotels Europe highlighted what really mattered to business travellers and what did not. The survey makes interesting reading for several reasons.
First it confirms a trend I previously wrote about, the intersection between health, technology and the consequences of not paying attention to either. Secondly it underlines the worrying trend of business travellers ignoring their health at the cost of productivity and well-being. Ultimately this does not serve the corporations or businesses travellers themselves. This article suggests business travellers should pay more attention to their health for better productivity and successful business outcomes and outlines what minimum facilities travellers should be able to expect at hotels the use when on business. While this article is for frequent flier business travellers it is useful to anyone concerned about performance, productivity and travel health.
The survey graphs what business travellers really want in the following order of importance – Free WiFi, 24hr Security/ Reception, Early Check-In/Late Check-Out, Onsite Restaurant, Business Centre, Airport Transfers and Fitness Centre. It is noteworthy that Free WiFi should rank first and the Fitness Centre last, but more about this later.
Globalisation continues to make the world smaller and at the same time more competitive. Opportunities come faster and only the prepared are able to take advantage of them. While our grunt work maybe shipped off to developing countries creativity is still where the competition is.
Some companies understand this very well. The best example I can think of is Apple, Guy Kawasaki tells the story of how during his stint at Apple they had Odwalla smoothies on tap and how any journey over 2 hours qualified for first class business travel. Some might think this is a little extravagant but I do not think they have the creativity Apple is known for in its industry.
Staying creative and competitive depends on a sense of well-being, without this results are always less than they could be. Yet a lot of businesses ignore this fact when it comes to the business travel of their people. It is no good recruiting the best people if your people cannot stay creative for the next job wherever in the world it may be.
What is notable about the items on the survey is that health (Fitness Centre) should be as important a priority as Free WiFi. Our 24/7 connected business world is in danger of a huge corporate burnout if technology stifles health and creativity. This is the very nature of the threat we face at the moment. In all areas of business, technology and automation are taking the place of the routine so we can focus on expressing the creative. However the best creative minds always have a sense of well-being and health.
It is always the individual’s responsibility to look after one’s health but the stakes are so high in this business climate you would think corporations would do more to educate their people on how to travel well. If big business cannot make the case for looking after business travellers health then nobody can. It should be an important part of the travel departments strategy, after all these fliers are the face of the company wherever they do business. If business is not actively looking after its people, is it any wonder skewered priorities show up in the survey results above.
Business travellers should be able to expect a minimum standard of facilities while on the road as a priority and not as an afterthought. Frequent business travellers should be routinely prepped for what they can expect from thousands of miles on the road month in month out. They should also be schooled on how to look after their health so productivity and creativity do not suffer.
The Marriott and Sheraton hotel chains were the only hotels I knew who came close to offering serious in-house support services to help business travellers stay healthy while on the road. Unfortunately most of the guests didn’t appreciate the value of the services so they were discontinued.
The minimum a health conscious guest should be able to expect when checking into a hotel abroad is
24 hr gym access
Free clean water (if they can put it in gym they can put it by the ice machines on floors)
Quality healthy menu options
Sleep aids for jet lagged guests
Routines and aids to help specific travellers with challenges when they are in town for big events or occasions.
Destination specific information business fliers can use to help them acclimatize and function optimally.
There is a saying that goes something like this –
” Most people spend their lives chasing wealth at the expense of their health, and then use that wealth trying to regain their health.” – Is this the lot of business frequent fliers?
Survey Data from European Hoteliers Reveal Top Business Traveler Demands & 2012 Industry Forecasts.