THE CHANGING FACE OF THE BUSINESS TRAVELLER


The average age of the business traveller has come down. According to a travel study conducted by Deloitte, younger workers are set to travel for business more often than their older colleagues, in 2012. And in a professional stratosphere where young employees are as travel-lusty as they are ambitious, the need for onsite opportunities is only more pronounced. Dapper, daring and determined, it’s skyward ahoy for this breed of biz travellers.

Economy explosion:

More than a quarter of all business travellers under the age of 44 expect to travel more often during the year, and a chunk of this growth can be attributed to the rebounding economy. Raja Marthandan, CEO, Red Consulting, said, “Our economy is growing from strength to strength, thereby creating a multitude of innovative job / business opportunities. Also, globalisation has made younger workers more open to the idea of moving to other countries to work. This, coupled with an increase in ambition and spending, has led to the birth of a whole new generation of young CEOs, who’re travelling to different geographies to realise their dreams.”

Abhijit Chitnis, director of sales, Pune Marriott Hotel, Convention Centre, estimated that the typical age of the Indian business traveller today is between 28 and 36 years, and that its steady decrease has been underway over the last seven years. He elaborated, “Additionally, there is a host of young entrepreneurs that has started travelling extensively. Businesses today- both B2B and B2C- are spread far and wide, in keeping with the highly competitive market. It has become imperative for businesses to spread their reach in different markets- both domestic and international- to survive.” Mehak Chowdhary, Director, Blue Apple Image Consultants, added, “Today’s youngster is not tied down by wanting to be restricted to one city. My company handles work in both Europe and India, so that implies a lot of travel – I travel about once a month across the two continents due to work demands and there are people travelling even more than that. Our creative agency has work across 39 cities in India and that implies loads of travel; while the young legs and stamina are there, lets get the air miles!”

Young and raring to go:

Turns out, the fact that youngsters are more savvy, technologically and otherwise, makes them ideal candidates to be sent on business expeditions. Chowdhary, said, “Technical skill and competence get priority over grey hair these days. At my company, the average age just about touches 30- though we do appreciate experience, we don’t like dinosaurs. Youngsters are far more flexible with their itinerary and that plays a key role in sending them abroad. Also, with limited home-related responsibilities, they are able to pack their bags and move on a short notice.”

Younger the better?

Then there is the fact that the old guns these days prefer to call the shots from home turf, while their juniors traverse the length and breadth of the globe, marketing and building their profiles as the face of the brand. Anushruthi Davalur, HR executive and trainer, Gyana Training Academy, explained, “Employers are keen to hire youngsters who are willing to travel and that often becomes the make-or-break criteria for hiring. Companies want to send youthful employees on occupational-related travels because they project a more vibrant image of the company. Right from the way they dress to how they carry themselves, they market the brand better. Additionally, younger workers are trained to not think linearly…they think on their feet and out of the box, making them a perfect choice to constantly be on the move. Physically too, they’re more able to handle multiple travels better than older executives.” Rodney Mendes, Associate Director – Sales, The Park, Kolkata, added, “The age has come down as the new breed of entrepreneurs and managers is in its early 30s now. Also, the general recruiting age in organisations has come down because qualified young workers are more readily available than in previous years.”

Woman on top:

And it’s not just the guys who’re monopolising the skies. The number of young women going on work voyages, according to Chitnis, is slowly looking up- and now stands at a not-so-negligible ratio of 3 to 10. A TripAdvisor.in survey last year revealed that more Indian women than men prefer to travel for work and surprisingly, women are likelier to extend their business trips to make time for personal holidays. The ladies were also likely to create a business trip that was not really required to wrap up personal work in another city, compared to men, and they took longer routes to build their airlines miles compared to men. Chowdary said, “If we’re looking at equality, then it’s not a fair world but there’s a slow change taking place and when I travel these days, I tend to chance upon at least one woman travelling on business. While there is no specific profession or trend that one can look at, businesswomen today aren’t tied down to their home city, and if travel implies growth, then they’re willing to do it.” Mendes, said, “Unlike in the West, where the gender ratio is closer to 50: 50, in India, the travelling work force is still predominantly male; at around a 65:35.”

Well, either way, sky seems to be limit for these youngsters and they sure seem to be lovin’ it!

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