While remote meetings are easier than ever before, it will be decades before click-to-call or VR conferencing entirely replaces the old-fashioned handshake. Business travel fosters personal relationships, builds bonds between co-workers and customers, and empowers professionals to understand different cultures and markets. Travel experiences help build a sense of global citizenship that’s integral to the modern-day businessperson, and help travellers achieve more, both in the office and at home.
Unsurprisingly, the global growth in business travel shows no sign of slowing. Companies worldwide will spend about USD$1.4 trillion on travel this year, with one study predicting Asia-Pacific will account for half of the world’s total corporate travel spend by 2025. As China and India compete for the title of the world’s fastest-growing economy, they are also helping drive global business travel growth, with worldwide spend set to rise by 7.4 per cent in 2019. Yet, hand-in-hand with this growth comes an increasing awareness of the downsides of business travel.
Frequent travellers typically eat worse, exercise less and drink more alcohol than their non-travelling peers. Besides the obvious irritations of jetlag, regular long-haul flying can compromise the immune system. One study found businesspeople who travelled 21 nights or more a month were 92 per cent more likely to be obese than those who spent one to six nights a month away on business.
While rare, travel burnout is a very real phenomenon. With business travel no longer the preserve of the corporate elite, ever younger employees are criss-crossing the globe and putting themselves at risk of anxiety, stress, sleep problems, persistent minor ailments and even issues with personal relationships. To mitigate these potential low points, consider these five ways to make the most of your trip:
Research How Your Hotel Can Help
Whether you’re planning your own travel or relying on a travel manager, take time to research the amenities on offer in your hotel and the surrounding area. It won’t help stress levels to discover poor wi-fi connectivity or a shortage of plug sockets. The right location can slash time spent in traffic and provide a neighbourhood with charms all of its own. And good service goes beyond mere efficiency to deliver a human warmth that can be positively life-enhancing for the weary road warrior.
Put Your Health First
Healthy habits that are important at home are essential on the road – even though they’re harder to maintain. Whether your preferred choice of exercise is gym, yoga, running or swimming, mark a fitness slot in your calendar just as you might schedule a meeting: 24-hour hotel gyms make it easy to work out, however crammed your diary.
Keep Your Sleep Sacred
Sleep deprivation can lead to more than just a blurry head. To reduce the risk of depression, anxiety and obesity, aim for at least seven hours of quality sleep a night. Medicating exhaustion with caffeine and sugar can create a vicious cycle of highs and lows. When travelling across time zones, use a sleep planner such as Jet Lag Rooster to organise your adaptation, and schedule calls home or to the office at a time that allows you an unbroken night’s rest. Good quality sleep isn’t just good for your health, it also boosts productivity. Experts recommend switching off all devices an hour before bedtime, never using the bed for work, not checking emails or messages late at night, and sticking to your bedtime routine. While it’s easy to feel you should be on the go 24/7, make a point of taking the time to recharge and rest.
Consider hotels that prioritise sleep quality for their guests. At Crowne Plaza hotels, the Sleep Advantage program offers rooms in quiet zones – away from children, groups, maintenance crews and housekeeping – as well as premium bedding and aromatherapy kits tailor-made for a restful night. Guaranteed wake-up calls mean there’s no need to keep your phone by your bed as an alarm. Also, the brand’s new WorkLife rooms have three dedicated zones: work, relaxation and sleep. This means one can plan their schedule on their own terms.
Have a Plan of Campaign
Maintaining a similar schedule to the hours you keep at home makes for better diet, healthier lifestyle and higher quality of sleep. Rather than waking up early or slaving into the night to catch up on emails, build time into your day to maintain your routine workload; use your calendar to create slots for emails, colleague catch-ups, preparation and reflection. Leave time between meetings and dinner to wind down, wash up and refresh, and don’t overlook factoring travel time into your diary.
Take Time to Smell the Roses
Work-life balance can fall by the wayside when you’re travelling for business. Build leisure into your schedule, whether that’s seeing the sights of a foreign city, trying a new form of exercise, catching up with old friends or former colleagues, or simply taking a stroll around the neighbourhood. Use the hotel’s concierge service to recommend an event or activity that’s right for your interests.
Business travel can be isolating, so find time to connect and network with others. That’s easy at conferences and intra-office meetings, less so when you’re travelling solo. Look for a hotel with flexible lobby spaces that invite socialisation, such as Crowne Plaza’s Next Generation Lobby concept; make judicious use of the hotel bar; and, most importantly, be sure to stay connected with friends and family. After all, there’s no greater satisfaction, both professionally and personally, than returning home from a successful business trip feeling ready for a new challenge.