Overview of the Business Travel Sector
Whilst much business is conducted over the internet and telephone, many people still prefer to meet with business colleagues or associates face to face. Business travel occurs when employees travel away from their normal place of work or place of residence for business purposes. Business travel comprises all the elements required in making a business trip happen, (such as arranging car rental,
rail tickets, hotel accommodation and meeting venues).
Business travel originated from travelling merchants, buying and selling goods and bringing products back to their own countries and homes. For example, Coaching Inns in the UK during the 16th Century would have provided comfortable accommodation, horseshoeing services, and food to business travellers. In modern times the direct consequence of commercial travel is the ancillary industries that have been created to support it. Nowadays, the ancillary services are wide and varied and include those companies that support business travel, (such as business travel agents, reservation companies, events and trade fair operations and travel ticketing services). Most larger city-based hotels are geared to the business traveller market. Business travel hotels tend to be conveniently placed near to transport links (such as main roads, train stations and airports).
The sector comprises a host of providers. Ticket agents are well placed to support the travelling business person, whose company might use the services of a third party to make all business travel arrangements for its staff. Alternatively, where arrangements are left to individuals to make, ticket agents can be helpful in saving an individual time in researching transportation timetables and hotel availability. Large corporations whose employees undertake a lot of business travel can procure the best business travel deals, by contracting with an outside travel agency to source travel requirements in bulk. However, the intensely competitive travel marketplace means the charges made by third parties for their services may sometimes outweigh the savings made.
There are numerous reasons why people travel for business purposes. Staff need to travel to off-site meetings, seminars and conferences with colleagues from their own company or from within their own industry. Some business meetings take place halfway between the offices of an organisation to cut travel time. Meeting halfway can then mean office space is needed and there are many travel companies specialising in renting out of office space on an hourly or daily basis.
Hotels have long been in the business of offering conference and meeting room facilities, laying on refreshments and lunch into the cost of hiring a room. Many hotels offer package deals combining discounted meeting room and conference facilities with overnight stays, on nights when occupancy might otherwise be low. Out of season room rates are cheaper than in high season and companies holding conferences may be better placed to do so out of summer vacation season.
Business travel is a necessity for business owners and buyers who need to source products and services from overseas or great distances from home-base. For example, wholesalers and retailers may need to travel abroad to source and import raw materials, ingredients or finished goods to resell in their own country. International business travel in recent years has seen an increase in travel due to the 'offshoring' and outsourcing of services, (such as telephone based customer services and information technology support services). For example, staff from domestic markets make business trips to the offshore countries to train, audit and manage ongoing outsourced operations.
Business travel is a large sector of the overall tourism market, accounting for at least 30% of travel in the UK. Airlines market a proportion of their seats as “business class”. However, as a step up from economy or coach, business class seats both in planes and trains, offer an extra degree of comfort without costing as much as first class seats.