I know what you’re thinking. Why would a startup, already tight on resources, pay for one of its employees to swan around the world? What’s the catch here? Have I missed something?
There is no catch. You haven’t missed anything; yet.
Who’s idea was it?
About 3 months ago, right in the middle of our app re-launch, I plucked up the courage to tell my boss and CEO of whym.global that I wanted to travel the world. In just a month’s time, I told him, I would be catching a 1-way flight to Central America.
I was fully prepared to walk away from my stable city job in search for something different; something that made me feel alive. But this wasn’t just a 6-month backpacker dream to sip piña coladas and dance all night at the full-moon party. It was more than that. I wanted to take myself out of the office and into the field. I wanted to deepen my knowledge by immersing myself into an industry that I’d grown to love during my time at whym: travel.
Even with the personal development talk, of course I never expected whym to buy into it. They didn’t owe me anything. Even if they wanted to, there’s no way a startup could justify keeping me on 5,000 miles away from the office, could they? Anyway, there are plenty of talented Marketing Managers in London who’d be ready to snap up the position.
What happened next still surprises me. My boss’s reaction? He smiled. ‘Well this is great news’, he said.
It made perfect sense to me why this was the right decision for my career and quality of life, but why was this an exciting prospect for a travel startup?
The average business traveller spends $163.13 (per night) on accommodation, $96.89 on meals (a day) and $990 on flightsTravel News, Corporate Travel Index
If we look at the stats, the answer is simple:
The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) reported that business travel spending growth rose 4% between 2014-2016, reaching a total of $1.2 trillion. By 2020, this is expected to exceed $1.6 trillion. Despite the rise of video conferencing and data-sharing, then, it seems that face-to-face contact in the travel industry is still deemed extremely valuable. You only have to look at a number of global travel conferences, shows and talks to see that a physical presence for this industry continues to be king.
But how much does sending a full-time employee into the field cost? A lot. Research by Business Travel News’s ‘Corporate Travel Index’ shows that the average business traveller spends $163.13 (per night) on accommodation, $96.89 on meals (a day) and $990 on flights on just one of these trips. This is not startup budget friendly.
What’s in it for whym?
For whym, paying a freelancer who they know understands their business holds more value than having a physical presence in the office 9-5
Yes, you can cut down these costs with flight deals and budget accommodation, but the point is that having a presence at travel events doesn’t come cheap. The sad reality is that many startup’s resources are just too stretched to have a real presence at global travel events that, as the figures suggest, are so important for the growth of a travel business.
For whym, paying a freelancer (at a fraction of the price) who they know understands their business inside-out to represent them at events across the world holds more value than having a physical presence in the office 9-5. There’s also the added bonus that, as a content manager for a travel brand, I’m able to take inspiration every day as I move from adventure to adventure; hopefully producing fresh and interesting content that appeals to our target market.
Goodbye business class, hello backpack
The work I do does not require me to sit an office. I create travel-related content. I market a travel app. What better way to do that job than to be bang smack in the middle of it?
Watch out big travel brands, “business travel” is no longer reserved for the big bosses with big budgets. It no longer requires a suit, or even a business class airfare. There are some new kids in town, and they come in the form of content creators and social media managers.