Nearly 20 studies identify travel as exacerbating stress-related illnesses, but companies are increasing their creativity when it comes to their overall efforts to improve employee well-being and reduce health costs by opting for private aviation.
Corporate wellness programs tied to lowering health care costs have grown into a $2 billion industry and have shifted focus from squeezing more productivity out of travelers to maintaining their health, loyalty, and willingness to travel. Indeed, if you Google “tips for maintaining health while traveling,” you get over eight million hits and it is easy to see why.
Studies by Westin Hotels and Carlson Wagonlit (CWT), a major travel manager, found stress results in a 20% reduction in productivity because over 80% of domestic travelers are in the economy while 65% are in the intercontinental economy.
CWT’s The Hidden Costs of Business Travel identified 33 travel stressors including 6.9 hours of actually lost time per trip on average when traveling commercial which stretches to 15.6 hours lost time for intercontinental travel. One startling statistic showed a single effort to save $1 million in travel expenses by traveling economy, actually cost $3 million in lost productivity or illness. Another study – The Darker Side of Hypermobility – recounts all the maladies to which road warriors may fall heir.
Clearly interest in maintaining road-warrior wellness is high and recapturing this lost productivity goes straight to the bottom line. Even airlines are responding to corporate and traveler demand by incorporating wellness with healthier menus, inflight biometric monitoring, and in-seat exercise and meditation programming.
The Private Aviation Antidote
Perhaps 90% of travel stress results from the commercial airline experience from getting to the airport two hours early to running the airport gauntlet from garage to security to gate. Then there is the confusing and chaotic boarding process as well as overcrowded aircraft and the saga of the shrinking seat. What was once considered a perk has become a crucible to be endured.
An ARC study recounts lessons from road warriors themselves. Achieving Better Business Travel Results: Insights from US Road Warriors, confirmed the impact of airline travel when it recounted the negative impact of cost-focused travel policies; the keys to reducing road warrior attrition risk; the importance of traveler sleep, health, and safety, and the benefits of better-quality travel. Senior executives are using these findings to significantly re-shape their corporate travel program’s strategic priorities. Doing so leads to more successful trips and better road warrior retention and wellness.
“Cost savings are roughly 1% of the economic value added by road warriors, so it makes much more sense to focus on how to increase the road warrior’s value-add,” says Scott Gillespie, ARC’s head of analytics and CEO of tClara, in announcing the road warrior insights study. “This means increasing the road warrior’s trip success rate and their willingness to travel and decreasing their burnout and attrition risks.”
As a result, more corporations are considering private aviation because they see it as a factor in recruiting and maintaining happy employees. Millennials have shifted the employee/employer equation in favor of a work/life balance that sees them at home most nights, difficult with the loss of the out-and-back-in-one-day business trips that fell victim to airline hub-and-spoke systems. This has also shifted the travel equation away from fares to well-being.
Millennials are not the only ones driving change. Research published by the International Luxury Travel Market shows 70% of travelers participate in wellness programs and, indeed, travel to do so. They have adopted healthier eating and exercise habits which makes adopting wellness in travel a must-have.
Even so, dedicated road warriors who keep the nose to the grindstone in flight have yet to learn one thing. Often the best solution, even on private aircraft, is often to sit back, relax and watch the inflight entertainment on offer. Remember, rest is a weapon in your battle to maintain wellness.