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Springfords LLP blog

Some news, views and comments about everything and anything, relevant and irreverent.

The secret life of the business trip

08 May 2015

The age of video conferencing and remote working may have already arrived, but for all the savings in costs and travel time, that hasn’t stopped many of us finding reasons to pack our overnight bags for the traditional business trip.

If you think a few hours on a train and a night away will give you some down time to finally nail your in-tray, think again.  A recent and none too rigorous survey by Hotel Reservation Service, revealed some trends between the crisp sheets that cosset the business overnighter.  You might even have been surveyed yourself, if you had a few spare minutes while dining for one during one of the nineteen nights away that workers in the electronics, energy, utilities and logistics industries regularly undertake - six more than the overall average. 

If this doesn’t sound like your working experience, don’t feel too hard done by.  While there are plenty of benefits from the overnight stay - not enough pillows and overheated rooms aside - nearly three weeks away from home is not everyone’s cup of tea, especially when poured from an individual-sized teapot.  Nothing says “I wish I wasn’t here” like a teabag on a string and two of those biscuits nobody likes in a cellophane wrapper.

A quarter of us admit to staying away overnight on business, even if it wasn’t strictly necessary and even if we get no further than the hotel leisure centre when we arrive - the fate of half of all business trippers.  The top spurious reason for a business overnighter is a client meeting that wasn’t absolutely necessary.  Conversely, meeting an important client was also the top reason for actually going on a business trip in the first place.  Either way, you can always ask Springfords about the validity of your business trip costs, at least in tax terms. 

The time of the meeting and the journey itinerary are both top reasons given for an overnight.  If you’re on a live outside broadcast, chances are you’ll fulfil both those criteria.  However, there’s a famous old scandal involving a television crew from Manchester who booked themselves into a hotel after they wrapped their production. It just so happened it was in neighbouring Salford - a short walk from base!

These days, you generally have to be a bit further from head office to justify an overnight.  On average you can expect to be almost three hours’ travel from the remote location before management will sanction a bed for the night, even overseas.  The advent of the low cost flight means many companies want their staff to conduct business at foreign offices, and get back to their desks in a day.  Edinburgh in the morning, Essen in the afternoon anyone?

Irony of ironies, more business trip meetings than ever are taking place in airport lounges.  Go through all the indignities of modern air travel and you might still not even get out of the terminal building.  Jet lag and knees up to your chin in economy, and not even the chance of grabbing a quick selfie in front of the unmissable local tourist attraction that you won’t have time to visit anyway.  On the plus side, since you’ll be indoors for the duration of the trip, you won’t have to bother putting your shoes back on after going through the security strip search.  That, and an endless supply of those biscuits nobody likes in a cellophane wrapper.

So, maybe the business trip isn’t as jolly as the jolly once was.  All these busy schedules don’t leave much spare time. Only 25% find any time for socialising on the road.  Rather puzzlingly that figure is at odds with the 50% who say they bring their spouse along.  Maybe half of us find being with the other half is more like business than pleasure.


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