Study: Business Travelers Say the Kids Come
More than one-third (41%) of those surveyed
say they would cut a trip short because of a birthday or child's
(Newstream) -- Who's the boss? When it comes
to business travel, executives say it's their children. In fact, 67%
of parents polled say they have refused to go on a business trip because
it conflicted with their children's activities, according to a study
just released by Sheraton Hotels & Resorts.
More than one-third (41%) of those surveyed say they would cut
a trip short because of a birthday or child's illness. Nearly a
third (31%) won't travel because of a school function, and five
percent would cancel a trip altogether if their children were upset
about their leaving.
"The playroom wins over the boardroom when a school play, music
recital or baseball game is involved," says John Greenleaf, vice
president, Sheraton brand management for Starwood Hotels & Resorts
Worldwide, Inc. "This study showed us just how far a business traveler
will go to preserve the delicate balance between work and family
While the Cat's Away...
While on the road, business travelers turn into "road worriers,"
fretting about the kids' behavior and how the other spouse will
cope. In fact, 13% expect the kids to give the other parent a hard
time "all or most of the time," and research shows those concerns
- 45% - Stay up past their bedtime
- 38% - Don't do homework
- 22% - Visit "inappropriate" web sites
- 14% - Skip school
"That could explain why 'wait until your father or mother gets
home' is a popular refrain in 52% of the homes," says Greenleaf.
While only one in three (29%) adults polled worry that their spouse
will let the children stay up past bedtime, 45% of the kids said
they stay up late. More than half of the children (58%) say the
parent staying home with them lets them "order out for food," 15%
watch scary movies and 11% watch TV shows the traveling parent would
not allow. And, yes, 10% say they "jump on their beds."
More freedom isn't the only reason for brighter smiles. Kids say
when Mom or Dad is away, they are better about brushing their teeth
(21%) and saying their prayers (20%). Kids do miss family security,
though, and 17% report they are more likely to sleep with a stuffed
animal, 16% with a light on in their room, 15% with the television
on and 11% with a radio.
Near Miss Syndrome
Children aren't the only ones feeling a somewhat "empty nest,"
according to the "Business Travelers and their Children" study.
Women miss the children (93%) - and they miss them more than the
men do (83%), although wives miss their husbands (21%) less than
their husbands miss them (35%). Women also report missing their
spouse less than their children (14% vs. 32%).
And how long could travelers go before missing home? While most
parents report it is generally three days, the "comfort zone" for
children having a parent away is two days.
The New Trend: Taking Care of Business -- With the Kids
The "Ozzie and Harriet" days are over. Today, with two-income
families, many executives are packing up the kids along with the
briefcase. Sixty percent of parents say they've taken a child along
on a business trip because "it's a good learning experience for
them" (47%) or "we're going on vacation after the business trip"
(40%). For executives who don't bring the children, 75% say it's
because the child is in school.
To promote family business, Sheraton offers a family plan. There
is no charge for children (17 and younger) occupying the same room
with a parent or guardian if they can be accommodated in existing
Parents who don't take the kids along generally take a photo.
Only 5% of the women and 11% of the men polled admit they don't
carry a picture of their children. (Only 58% of the women bring
along a photo of their spouse, but 78% of the men tote along a snapshot
of their wife.)
And, the answer to the perennial question, "What did you bring
me?" is no surprise: 27% bring home a t-shirt.
ET, Call Home
More important than a t-shirt, though, is family contact, as UCLA
department head Dr. Irene Goldenberg explains. "Don't set yourself
up so your family phone call is going to come 15 minutes after a
scheduled meeting because the meeting may run over," explains the
family psychologist, who also believes in sharing the travel experience.
"Sheraton Share the Trip Tips" are available on the hotel company's
web site: www.sheraton.com. Tips include basic recommendations such
as turning the business trip into a learning experience by studying
the destination at the library, or leaving notes for the kids under
their pillow or in secret hiding places. The site also shares some
tried and true techniques that have worked for hotel executives.
And, to make business travelers feel more at home, Sheraton is
introducing guestrooms that are more like a bedroom at home than
a hotel room. The rooms feature cozy sleigh beds, and oversized
desks and work areas. The "new look" is being introduced at more
than 6,000 hotel rooms as Sheraton renovates properties in North
"It's all part of our philosophy of taking care of the guest,"