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Business Travel: What It Is and What It Isn’t

by travelonbiz   ·  2 years ago   ·  

Contrary to what most people may think, leisure travel is a relatively new concept in Western societies.

Although its origins date back to the Greeks and Romans, it wasn’t until the 17th century when the idea of spending some time away from home in pursuit of recreation, relaxation, or pleasure really took off.

However, long before theme parks, seaside hotels and cruise ships were a thing, people would leave their hometown mostly out of necessity (migration), religious reasons (pilgrimage) or trade.

And although nowadays it’s hard to think of Phoenicians or Vikings in a suit, truth is, the roots of Business Travel go back to ancient and even pre-historic times.

So we could say business trips were, in fact, the first kind of tourism.

In our current hyper-connected, globalized world, the face of Business Travel has shifted away from seafarers and merchants and now you can just hop on an airplane, travel thousands of miles, have a couple of meetings, sign ten contracts and be back in a few days.

But what is “Business Travel” exactly? Does that road trip to the next town’s mall to get office supplies count as a business trip?

Contrary to that ex of yours, we like to put labels on things. So for the sake of clarity, we bring you this post to shed light on what Business Travel is and what it isn’t.

What is Business Travel

Business Travel 101 - What is Business Travel Business Travel 101 – What is Business Travel

The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) defines tourists as people “traveling to and staying in places outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business, and other purposes“.

The “business” part of this concept means that during Business Travel the traveler is officially still working and being paid while doing it away from both their workplace and home.

Reasons for a business trip can include (but are not limited to):

  • Attending trade shows or fairs.
  • Visiting providers, clients or customers.
  • Building new partnerships.
  • Promoting products or services.
  • Training sessions or meetings at other company branches.
  • New market research.
  • Team networking and loyalty-building.

As you can see, the reasons behind a business trip can vary wildly between industries, companies and even between departments and job positions. However, its main activities usually involve meetings, conferences, work-related-training and/or networking.

Being a primarily work-oriented concept, activities such as consultancy, inspections, training, meetings and attending events are the backbone of Business Travel. This being said, other leisure activities such as dining out, recreation, shopping, sightseeing, meeting others in a casual environment and the like are not excluded from the general concept of BT.

What is NOT Business Travel

Business Travel is an extensive part of the tourism industry, and, as described above, it can come in many shapes, sizes, and budgets.

The definition of Business Travel is wide and flexible. However, here are a few instances of what general consensus would describe as NOT Business Travel. Keep in mind that these are just general examples and whether they can be considered a business trip will largely depend on industry standards, company policy, and even personal opinion.

Business Travel is all about intent. If the primary goal of a trip is not work-related, it cannot be considered a business one. For example, if an employee is requested to answer emails while on vacation, they’re just working during their holidays and definitely not on a business trip.

If the trip is longer than a year, or the goal of the trip is to temporarily or permanently move to another place, we’re talking about a relocation and not a business trip, regardless of whether said relocation is paid for by the employer.

On that note, on most cases, it can only be considered Business Travel if the trip is sponsored by a company. This, however, is a very loose rule as single entrepreneurs or freelancers can also partake in Business Travel while paying for the whole thing themselves.

Another controversial trait comes up with the “staying away” rule from UNWTO, as this excludes single-day business trips from the definition of Business Travel. However, with today’s efficient air and rail travel options, it is perfectly possible to attend a meeting in the morning and be back home by the afternoon, no hotels involved, and it would still be business-related and therefore a business trip to most people.


Business tourism is travel undertaken for work or business purposes, as opposed to other types of travel, such as for leisure purposes or regularly commuting between one’s home and workplace.

Reasons for Business Travel can vary a lot.

For a trip to be considered a business one, the intent behind it should be work-related.

Business Travel can include leisure activities as well.

Did you enjoy this post? What does Business Travel mean to you? Let us know in the comments.

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