August 19 2009 by Chris McGinnis
In a previous blog, you may have read about the Best Western Diamond 100--a group of Best Western's most frequent guests, most of whom spend more than two weeks a month traveling on business.
These are folks who drive more than they fly and they work for themselves or for small- or medium-sized companies. They call the shots and pick up the tab for their trips.
They don't normally stay at 4- or 5-star downtown hotels and they don't fly business class--or even fly that much at all. Furthermore, they rarely spend more than $100 per night for a hotel and they don't work for giant companies that manage their business trips. Few have access to video conferencing facilities and many don't even have a travel agent or an expense account to fall back on.
Among travel industry insiders, these types of people are known as an "unmanaged travelers" (as opposed to "managed travelers" whose large corporations dictate how business travel will be conducted).
But just how many unmanaged travelers are out there? That's a tough question to answer. So I called in an expert.
Lorraine Sileo is the head of research for PhoCusWright, a well-known travel industry research firm. She said, "Trying to put a number on unmanaged travelers is like herding cats. There are probably more unmanaged travelers out there overall, but as a group they spend less than corporate travelers because they work for smaller companies and act a lot like leisure travelers."
I have been able to herd about 400 of these cats into our Best Western Diamond 100 group and have spent much of the summer checking in with them. Via a series of surveys, we've uncovered their outlook and travel intentions for the upcoming business travel season.
And I have to say that the news is pretty good!
Next week I'll reveal the findings of an early August survey that show, among other things, nearly 80% of these business travelers intend to travel as much or more over the next six months as they did during the same time last year.