The business traveler category is an intriguingly multifaceted affair.

What exactly, is a business traveler anyway? We humans like to categorize everything-even ourselves. Unfortunately, the labels we use don`t really tell the story. Male, female, old, young, middle age, middle class….to make matters worse, individuals in each “category” are all too often painted with the small brush. I could be labeled middle class, middle age, Irish American, white, male. Indeed, the same can be said for many, many folks-each of whom has a unique story.

Business travelers routinely are painted with one brush. We read about and talk about road warriors as if they are a monolithic group. But let`s step back for a moment.

So just who is the business traveler?                                                                      

It turns out there are millions of us, and we can be found in every country on the globe. Business travelers have been around for centuries. No single brush can even begin to paint a meaningful picture. Early explorers traveled on business, looking for new routes to improve product delivery and find new sources of income. Ambassadors have a long history of business travel. The United States of America was born because our forefathers made business trips to France to earn support for the Revolution. Over time, women because business travelers. Florence nightingale traveled from England to Crimea and invented modern nursing. If you broaden the definition, Jesus and the Apostles were business travelers moving around the Holy Land spreading the word.

And what about the scientists, politicians, writers, and other visionaries who travel to Stockholm from around the world each year to collect their Noble prizes? Business travelers all.

The term “business traveler” came in to use in the late 20th century. Before that we had traveling salesman, traveling road shows, traveling sports teams that played “away” games.

Then came travel agencies and airline commissions. Quickly, companies created business travel departments to recoup those commissions. When commissions went away, the corporate discount was born. Travel agencies turned in to TMC`s (travel management companies), and travel managers were created to educate their employees to control and monitor spend. It didn`t matter how these various employees self-identified; they were all simply business travelers.

Basically, if you are compensated by a third party for a function performed some distance from your home, you are a business traveler. Everyone who is reading this magazine is a business traveler-and likely helps many folks manage their business travel, however, is not easily categorized. A business traveler might be playing sports, delivering a presentation, doing research, or simply establishing a rapport. A business traveler might be a part of a group that can swell to thousands of people attending a convention. More often than not, however the business traveler-you, me-goes it alone.

Technology was supposed to displace business travel a generation or two ago. Instead, technology is growing to assist the business traveler. Look at smartphone apps. There are something like 34,000 of them, designed to keep business travelers informed and content.

Business travelers keep going, some logging more than a million miles along a way. In recognition of these professional travelers, million-milers or not, airlines invented business class service. They didn`t name it “comfy class” or “less than first class”; they named it for the business traveler.

But that`s not enough. Airliners are buying double-decker airplanes to add more business class seats. It doesn’t look like the business class seats. It doesn’t look like business traveler will become virtual any time soon.

The support system for this growing segment of the population is here at GBTA. Yes, the name of our association is a broad brushstroke of all the things business travel, but peel back the layers and you`ll find many branches of important activity. Our hard-working committees are dedicated to forefront activity in the arena`s most vital areas: aviation, technology, hotels, meetings, risk management, and government relations.

So, who is the business traveler? Well, who isn`t?

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