5 Trends in Small Business Travel

By Benjamin Pimentel, NerdWallet

In the Hollywood movie “Up in the Air,” actor George Clooney is a jet-setting businessman who sees his fast-paced, itinerant lifestyle threatened by the rise of videoconferencing.


Well, no need to worry about any such threat, even if you work for a small business with a less impressive travel budget than the corporation featured in the critically acclaimed 2009 film.

For small businesses, travel remains an important way of finding and closing deals as well as reaching clients and customers, according to new study from the online travel site Expedia.

If you’re a millennial or someone older working for, or maybe running, a small business, the report offers insights into generational differences in viewing the perks and costs of business travel.

Here are five key findings from the study released Thursday:

Small business travelers are traveling more.

More than half, or 51%, of small business travelers say their business travel has increased during the last five years, the report says. Most small business travelers take an average of eight business trips a year and spend an estimated 17 nights total in a hotel.

Small business travelers prefer face-to-face meetings.

When given a choice, 58% of small business travelers say they would rather hold a face-to-face meeting than one by videoconference. For business people older than 55, 75% would rather hold in-person meetings than talk to a client or a co-worker through a screen.

Younger business travelers are less-budget conscious.

There’s also a generational divide when it comes to travel spending. If you’re a young business traveler, you probably turn in heaps of travel expense reports with pricey items. Small business travelers between 18 and 34 years old “spend more on flight, hotel and car rental than older counterparts,” the report says. Three-fourths of millennials are also more likely to “extend a business trip into a holiday” compared with a little over 40% for business travelers 55 years and older. And young business travelers are the most likely to splurge on such items as “room service, transportation, alcohol, entertainment, first class airline seats and advanced seat selection,” the study says.

Travel budgets are up for nearly half of small businesses.

The good news for business travelers with expensive tastes is nearly half of small business travelers say their company travel budgets have risen in the past year. This is particularly true for those in finance, information technology, and construction and trades. The average amount a small business traveler spends on a round trip flight is $987, according to the report. Small business travelers spend an average of $288 a night on hotels, and $214 on car rentals.

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