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By Jay Walker, Chairman, Upside Business Travel
Few people realize it, but the U.S. economy largely runs on the efforts of an army of incredibly hardworking professionals who make nearly 514.4 million domestic business trips a year.
That’s right…25 million-plus business travelers are out there every day hustling on planes, trains and automobiles.
Yet despite driving a $424 billion domestic business travel sector (roughly the size of the auto industry), we don’t even know who these people are.
For example, when somebody says “business traveler,” what picture pops into your head?
If you instantly visualize an older guy in a suit, clutching his briefcase, then your stock of mental images needs some serious updating.
Today’s business travelers are statistically about as likely to be women as men.
And, today’s business travelers are as likely to be Millennials as Baby Boomers. They come in all ethnicities, too.
So says our comprehensive, soon-to-be-released survey covering the “independent” half of the market -- i.e., “do-it-yourself” road warriors who lack access to formal travel resources and make their own plans.
Yet regardless of age, sex, race, or other demographic factors – and despite their huge economic importance -- business travelers rarely get their due appreciation.
Happily, this is changing in a big way on April 24th.
Announcing the first-ever National Business Traveler Day!
Heck, America already celebrates National Hot Dog Day (July 18), National Wear Red Day (Feb. 26) and National Reptile Awareness Day (Oct. 21).
Why not an official day to say “thank you” to tens of millions of U.S. business travelers who are always on the move in service of America’s economy?
National Business Traveler Day (NBTD) is organized by Upside Business Travel. Our media partner is The Wall Street Journal. Supporting NBTD are 25 top-quality partner companies including United Airlines, Hertz, XpresSpa, Mastercard, Uber for Business and Dress for Success--see below for the full list.
How will we celebrate NBTD? In the words of John Adams upon the founding of the United States of America:
“From this day forth, let our Nation mark this Historic Day with bands, parades and fireworks and all Manner of festive Human Events!”
Oh, wait -- we already do that on July 4th.
On second thought, then, let’s do some fun (yet practical) things that really show our appreciation to business travelers.
Front and center: a lavish Business Traveler Dream Sweepstakes. The Grand Prize winner gets free first-class upgrades on every domestic business flight for the next 20 years.
Specifically, the Grand Prize awards $5,000 a year to pay for 20 years of domestic first class upgrades. Enter here through May 18; it’s free (rules).
While we’re at it, let’s throw in some amazing giveaways and prizes for additional sweepstakes winners, courtesy of our NBTD partners.
Next, we’re asking the U.S. Congress to enshrine NBTD in law.
A National Proclamation, to be introduced by a bipartisan group of members of Congress, will get our entire country on record, recognizing business travel as “a vital component to the economic health of the U.S. economy today and in the future.”
Finally, some official respect for America’s road warriors!
If you happen to be traveling on business on April 24th, you just might see some NBTD activities and hospitality at several major airports. If so, we warmly encourage you to step up and take advantage.
At O’Hare, JFK and DFW we’re hosting special lounge spaces where business travelers can relax with free refreshments, recharge their electronic devices and connect with colleagues.
Also on April 24th at JFK, SFO and LAX, along with the Westfield World Trade Center location, selected business travelers who are readers of The Wall Street Journal will be treated to complimentary spa services at XpresSpa locations.
Talk about traveling in style.
To provide a few smiles during the run-up to NBTD, we conducted a lighthearted online competition, presented by Hertz, where business travelers voted for “History’s Greatest Business Trip.”
The contest’s 32 brackets included everything from Odysseus getting home 10 years late from the Trojan War -- to the first commercial airline flight -- and the first-ever Moon landing. (Winner: Apollo 11.)
But let’s face it; you don’t have to be a pioneering aviatrix or a Moonwalking astronaut in order to be a business travel hero.
You just have to keep getting out there on the road, putting in the miles and doing your part for yourself, your company and the U.S. economy.
There are more than 25 million of you heroes, and we salute you one and all.
Our deep appreciation goes to our generous National Business Travel Day partners: United Airlines; XpresSpa; Hertz; Mastercard; Uber for Business; 1-800-flowers.com; 24 Hour Fitness; Audible; BARK, the makers of BarkBox; Blue Bottle Coffee; Global Business Travel Association; Hudson Group, operators of Hudson and Hudson News; iHeartMedia; iPass; JetBlue; Journy; LATAM Airlines; LoungeBuddy; Lyft; The Points Guy; THNKS; and UNTUCKit. Thanks also to Dress for Success, NBTD’s non-profit partner and The Wall Street Journal, NBTD’s media partner.
About Jay Walker
Jay S. Walker, Executive Chairman of the Board of Directors, is Chairman of Walker Digital, LLC, (“Walker Digital”) which he founded in 1994. He is widely known as the founder of priceline.com, which brought a new level of value to the travel industry and its millions of customers. Mr. Walker is also the co-founder and Director of The TEDMED Foundation (“TEDMED”), a global community of people from every field who are passionate about the future of health and medicine (TEDMED is the sole independent licensee of the TED organization). In addition, he is the co-founder, Chairman and CEO of The Upside Travel Company, LLC (“Upside”), a business travel company he founded in 2015. Concurrently, Mr. Walker is a member of several organizations that promote innovative solutions to global problems, including The President’s Circle of the National Academies (comprising the National Academy of Sciences; the National Academy of Engineering; the National Academy of Medicine; and the National Research Council); and the Atlantic Council as a member of the Board of Directors. Mr. Walker is also founder, curator and owner of The Library of the History of Human Imagination; he is actively involved with Cornell University as the co-chairman of its Library Campaign. Mr. Walker received his Bachelor of Arts in Industrial Relations, Cornell University, New York, in 1978 and an Honorary Doctorate of Science from Cazenovia College, New York in 2011.