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Business travel should be more about business and less about travel. Yet the stress of being on the road can reduce productivity during the trip and even lead to time off work afterward to recover. Weighing the human cost of savings when flying economy or checking into low-end hotels is only just starting to be understood.

There are three main categories of stress that road warriors deal with: lost time when they cannot work, surprises such as delayed flights, and routine breakers when they fail to keep up with daily habits, according to an October survey of 6,000 business travellers by Carlson Wagonlit Travel (CWT), a travel management company.

“Making better decisions for travellers is not about moving everyone from economy to business class, it’s about booking a trip that reduces stress,” said Vincent Lebunetel, head of CWT Solutions Group. “Avoiding inconvenient hotel locations or connecting flights helps.”

According to Adam Knights, group marketing director at travel management company ATPI, the single biggest factor they encounter in traveller feedback surveys relates to when things go wrong, “These include things like fog at Heathrow airport, the volcanic eruption in Iceland or the Arab uprisings in the Middle East.” However, the advent of smartphones and tablets with  travel management apps and live updates from airlines and airports has helped, making it easier to find out about disruptions in advance and anticipate related stress accordingly.

There are other considerations in minimising the pressure of travel. “Travellers may prefer to select a hotel with gym facilities so they can maintain their workout routine, or choose one that is close to business locations to ensure less time is lost in transport once they have arrived at destination,” said Lebunetel. In July 2011, Hotel 41 and Rubens at the Palace hotels in London, both part of the Red Carnation Group, introduced a “sports buddy” programme, whereby staff at the properties with notable sporting skills, such as tennis or jogging, are teamed up with guests keen to keep fit during their stay.

In August 2012, ITC Hotels a high-end hotel chain in India, with hotels in Mumbai, Agra and New Delhi, introduced a sleep menu at 10 of its luxury collection properties in its rooms, including calming aromatherapy treatments, a pillow menu and foot massages aimed at business travellers trying to overcome jet lag and stressful travel. This comes after the Oberoi hotels in the Indian cities of Gurgaon and Mumbai, popular with business travellers, opened up 24 hour spas in 2011 offering long-haul flight recovery and reviving treatments.

And there are more stress busting resources out there, such as a nutrition app for iPads, iPhones, iPods and Android phones aimed at business travellers which was launched in June 2012 by the nutrition consulting group Eat Well Global, providing insights on eating well in restaurants, airports and hotels. The app, written by registered dieticians, gives tips on restaurant recommendations, ways to communicate dietary restrictions in different languages and what foodstuffs to avoid when travelling.

Finally, business travellers can help reduce the tension caused by corporate trips themselves. Three years ago British Airways teamed up with the UK-based Stress Management Society to come up with useful tips on how to combat any trauma experienced on long haul flights. Top of the list included regular exercise on the plane and breathing exercises. British Airways features wellbeing exercises in-flight and has since evolved the results into a whole wellbeing section on their website, with medical information, sleep tips and jetlag advice.

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