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“When you have life-work balance,” says lifestyle guru and entrepreneur, Leiti Hsu, “you can really optimize your life. That’s what’s cool about today’s business traveler.”
Over the past year, bleisure—the trend of mixing business and pleasure—has exploded on the travel scene. And the face of the American business traveler has changed to reflect this. “When you look at the front of a plane, it’s no longer a sea of suits,” says Hsu, pointing out that women business travelers are a force to be reckoned with. On National Business Traveler Day, April 24, industry leaders like Hsu are celebrating these changes, as well as the vital economic role of the business traveler.
Co-founder of Journy, a concierge travel planning service, and creator of Word of Mouth, a food media company and global hospitality consultancy, Hsu embodies the sharp and savvy millennial girl boss who “doesn’t fit into a box.” Her road to success was paved by realizing her strengths—as a “storyteller and connector,”—and parlaying them into experiential lifestyle services that cater to the young, globetrotting, female professional.
Travel, which Hsu says helps you “be a better version of yourself,” took the place an MBA for this former Merrill Lunch investment banker. Hsu decided to leave the corporate world for consulting gigs. (Her advice if she were to do it all over again: “Take that money you were going to spend on business school, and travel the world. Then intern for an Instagram star who can show you the ropes.”)
Within years, Hsu had formed two fully funded and profitable businesses with edgy, accessible, and influential social media that are reimagining the face of the millennial business traveler. For one: she’s female, which, according to a report on the female business traveler by Skift, puts her in a demographic that accounts for 85 percent of all purchasing decisions and 60 percent of wealth in the U.S.
“There are many ways male and female travelers are different,” says Hsu. “Certainly, as a woman, safety is a bigger concern.” Enter Journy, a travel planning service that handpicks the best local accommodations and adventures. “For solo female travelers, Journy makes sure that the neighborhoods, hotels, and modes of transportation we’re recommending are safe so you don’t have to worry.”
For the female business traveler, “it’s not just about finding a suitable place for a work dinner or a meeting,” Hsu says. “Women want to optimize their time and be inspired. [They want] a coffee meeting in a gorgeous light-filled café, a relaxing facial to recover from a long-haul flight, [recommendations on] how to get that mani-pedi done on-the-go when you can’t go to your regular person. And of course they want a business dinner at a cool new restaurant from a top chef.”
Finally, today’s business traveler is open to all the serendipitous possibilities and connections being on the road, or that luxury hotel. “Travel allows you to somehow be in the right place at the right time,” says Hsu. As a result, you “catch that lucky meeting or attend an event that opens opportunities.”
With all these rich life-optimizing experiences at the ready, the business traveler of 2018 is not only living her best life, she enjoys working for a living.