Who is the modern road warrior?

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How often do you travel for work? If you happen to work for an organization like The Rolling Stones, you’ve put down enough miles of flights and bus rides to go to the moon and back. However, ordinary people do not play in a five-decade old rock and roll band, so your mileage is likely much, much smaller. 

Every day, millions of business travelers across the world are on the road, far from their usual offices and workplaces. Most likely, these travelers will be away for a couple of days, enjoying the perks of staying in a hotel and the experience of being away. Once they’re back, they will probably not travel for work again in months. 

Lots of people travel, but not everyone is a road warrior.  Only a small percentage of travelers log enough miles and room nights to earn the road warrior badge. Who are these super travelers, and what do they look like?

Inside the Mind of the Modern Road Warrior, a report by travel analysts Phocuswright, defines the road warrior, as a managed or unmanaged business traveler who takes at least eight business trips within twelve months. According to this study, road warriors account for a small slice of the business traveler population. In the US, 16% (6.6 million) of business travelers contribute half of all business trips. Or put it this way, 16% of surveyed business travelers travel as much as the other 84%.

That 16% are the true road warriors. Travelers who live out of a suitcase, avoid hustle in airport lounges, and sleep in hotel rooms more nights than in their own bed. These hardcore travelers are a very different breed.

How the modern road warrior rolls

What makes a road warrior different? As expected, this group of travelers do more…. of everything. They take more trips, stay in more types of lodgings – from budget to luxury, and use more means of transportation. And, as they’re used to living on the road, it is not a surprise modern road warriors take more bleisure trips a year (more than four). 

Demographics show half of managed road warriors are under 35, while 41% of unmanaged are 45 or older and have senior roles at their organizations. Road warrior are also high earners with more than half of them earning at least $100,000 annually.

When it comes to travel policy, some might expect them to be more likely to find ways around corporate policies, but, road warriors are actually more compliant. Slightly more than half of managed road warriors always consistently adhere to the company’s travel policy for flights, car rentals and booking method. Convenience and loyalty status with a travel brand outside of policy are the main drivers for road warriors to go rogue. But this is obvious. 

Mobile first road warriors

Frequent business travelers tend to be tech savvy and therefore, are eager advocates of a mobile first lifestyle. It’s all about the apps. Road warriors are heavy mobile app users, significantly more than general business travelers. Two thirds of road warriors use three or more travel apps. They use apps to search and book flights and hotels, and usually turn to mobile to modifying existing reservations. 

With a mobile device in hand and too much idle time to kill while in transit, road warriors are more active in using social media for their business trips. They’re not shy to look for advice, contact suppliers or share negative experiences on social networks.