Business travel follows a rhythm around the world. It ebbs and flows in relation to the seasons, major holidays, and quarterly meetings. A light understanding of how and why airports, planes, and hotels seem particularly busy during certain times of the year helps us steady ourselves for the inevitable rush—and helps us prepare beforehand for the smoothest trip.
Although the data comes from several sources, all metrics point to October as the busiest month for travel throughout the year. Our proprietary Navan booking data shows a slight jump in bookings in October compared to all other months. This is supported by industry-wide data which also shows March and May to be high volume periods.
The spike in business travel usually works on an opposite schedule to leisure travel which jumps during the summer months and winter holidays as families and friends travel for holiday. Leisure travel around Spring Break and Thanksgiving do fill up flights throughout the year as well.
Business travel is based without friction so we’ve prepared a list of the 5 most effective ways to handle the crowds wherever work takes you in the coming year.
There are three fast-track programs that can be used in the U.S. to speed up different parts of the airport experience: Global Entry, TSA PreCheck, and CLEAR. Each have their own benefits, but should be used together for the best possible business travel experience. Global Entry streamlines re-entry into the United States from travel abroad while TSA PreCheck allows for faster security screening at U.S. Airports because members don’t need to remove their shoes, laptops, or liquids when passing through security screening. (According to the TSA, 92% of TSA PreCheck members wait less than five minutes for screening.)
TSA PreCheck can be added to Global Entry membership once a traveler is accepted. Clear is a private biometric-based "fast pass" that gets business traveler to the front of the U.S. security line (both regular and PreCheck lines). We cover how to sign for all of them and have experienced firsthand how each complements the other even during the busiest travel seasons.
Even novice business travelers know that selecting the right carry-on is critical to keeping belongings safe by their side and speeding through the airport on arrival. Fitting everything in a carry-on bag cuts out precious time spent waiting in lines to check a bag, worrying about luggage getting lost, and waiting at baggage claim after arrival. Plus, checking a bag limits your standby options if you need to hop an earlier flight. The only time that we recommend packing a larger suitcase is for trips that last longer than one week in which a larger piece of luggage might be necessary to account for all the variables that a business traveler might confront. We highlight our favorite carry-on suitcases here.
When you book through a modern travel management solution, you get access to 24/7 365 travel agents who can anticipate your needs and adjust your itinerary when the unexpected occurs. With travel agents available within seconds on chat, the experience is fat better compared to waiting in line at the airport or on the phone to get rebooked. The experience is not only expedited but radically reduces stress levels.
Organizations are rewarding travelers for following the corporate travel policy giving employees the opportunity to earn personal rewards -- either through gift cards or a personal travel stipend -- for saving company money on travel. Even if a business traveler has to deal with extra crowded planes and airports, they can earn rewards by making smart decisions, and use those rewards towards upgrades to make their travel even better. Companies that manage business travel through a modern solution also allow travelers to book in alignment with their loyalty programs. Therefore, by taking advantage of corporate travel incentives, you can earn money, loyalty points and upgrades when booking smart.
Maintaining your physical and psychological health on the road is hard, but business travelers are finding ways to stay healthy while traveling. It’s an important part of making sure that energy levels and focus stays high during critical meetings. Our road warriors came up with 5 ways to eat healthy on the go. But health goes beyond what we put in our bodies. It’s about being conscious about our impact on the planet and what we listen to and read while in the air or in a hotel room. The industry is making huge strides towards using less plastic and tools like the Navan Carbon Impact Data dashboard helps companies and travelers become more aware of how to lessen the environmental impact of frequent travel. We also recommend investing in a pair of high-quality noise-cancelling headphones to block out the noise of a full plane as well as an e-reader that provides informative and engaging content outside of spreadsheets.
To all our business travelers who still hit the skies for family, friends, and fun through the holidays, we wish you a safe and enjoyable trip.