Travel Stress Index: The Hidden Costs of Business Travel

January, 2013

This study is the second part in a broader initiative by the CWT Solutions Group to shed light on the hidden costs of business travel caused by travel-related stress. Our aim was to understand and measure how and to what extent traveler stress accumulates during regular business trips. We then defined a methodology and a set of key performance indicators (KPIs) to estimate the impact that this travel-induced stress has on an organization.

This publication continues our work on the TSI, which aims at identifying the impact of stress in business travel. In our prior study [Ref. 1], we gained an understanding of the specific triggers of travel-related stress. In the current paper, we present quantitative measures of travel stress and its corresponding impact on an organization.

Previous studies have reported on the harmful effects of increased stress on productivity [Refs. 2-3]. Stress prevention was found not only to reduce costs but also to improve productivity [Ref. 4]. Addressing stress is thus fundamental not only to a company’s duty of care responsibilities but also as a strategic component to managing the workforce.

The highlights of this study are the following:

1 - “Putting a metric behind a feeling”: to our knowledge, this study is the first to examine and to quantify to what extent stress occurs during the different stages of a given business trip.

2 - Taking a big data approach: 15.3 million air transactions from CWT’s global client base were used, in conjunction with other sources of information from within CWT as well as external data.

3 - Defining a new set of key performance indicators: in order to quantify the hidden costs of business travel, we conceived a set of metrics to measure successful travel management.

4 - Understanding the mechanism of stress and its impact on both a traveler and the wider organization sets a new frontier in business travel optimization.