I will say it here first – without hesitation – I MISS BUSINESS TRAVEL.
Maybe I am alone in this thought, but I am asking you to give me a chance to change your mind. Yeah, middle seats are the worst, especially when the guy next to you takes off his shoes and socks and decides to eat a tuna sandwich. Not great. On the other side of that argument, what about having the perfect cocktail at a rooftop bar on a Tuesday night when you are usually helping with homework and carting your kid to football practice? Starting to rethink it also?
Hilton recently came out with a survey highlighting travel memories. Hilton says that 188 million Americans are experiencing a travel memory deficit. Yep, I agree. But I also would venture to say there is a “business travel memory deficit” happening, as well. Case in point, I was Zooming with a colleague the other day and, unsolicited, he told me how much he misses business travel. I asked him, “What do you miss the most?” He told me great dinners, laughs with colleagues and getting some “me time.” I do not believe my colleague and I are alone in these feelings.
The survey also found that Americans believe there will be lasting effects due to the travel memory deficit, and in the same vein, I believe the business travel memory deficit will have similar results.
In an industry that values creativity, travel (including business travel) has been a significant source of inspiration for me. From an incredible culinary experience to local galleries showcasing an up-and-coming artist, I have been privileged to gain new ways of thinking and ideas from business trips. Creativity thrives when continuously challenged; the grounding of business travelers all over the world has put a creative strain on the psyches of many.
If you have ever had to get from Point A to Point B in the modern world, you are a master of problem-solving. There was a whole movie built around this concept. In the comedy classic, Planes, Trains and Automobiles, Steve Martin and John Candy learned there was not a problem too big they could not fix with wit, determination and kindness. While you may look at that movie as a complete disaster, it was a complete success when you consider the valuable lesson learned on navigating the emotional human obstacle course. Due to the lack of business travel, some of our brains aren’t as sharp when it comes to solution-based strategies.
One of the survey questions asked about with whom you plan to make your next travel memory once COVID-related travel restrictions lift and only seven percent said coworkers – sadly, tied with in-laws. I think this means you either have terrible coworkers or incredible in-laws…hmmm. However, I beg to argue that if you include “friends” at 33 percent and “other family members” at 28 percent, that number rivals the top choice of “my kids.” Safe to say for me, my coworkers who are friends and more like family are 61 percent of whom I would travel with first. The relationships formed and enriched by business travel have been a massive part of my success as a public relations professional. My time on the road with my colleagues has helped me connect and build lasting relationships that have pushed us to be better and expect better. When we walk into a room and finish each other sentences, it is hard not to want to be part of that magic. I miss the magic.
Whether it be singing Carpenters songs with John at Logan or wine tasting with Jen in Portland or looking for lemon pound cake in Los Angeles for Lauren’s mom, I miss traveling with my colleagues and, more precisely, my friends. If you are not one of the people missing business travel right now, you are missing the point.