Anyone who has traveled to a major city in the United States knows that things such as dysfunctional airports, heavy traffic or spotty cell service can be a source of serious headaches. But for the road warriors — the men and women who actually depend on travel as a factor of their work performance — structural inefficiencies can take a measurable toll on their productivity.
And make no mistake: This is no small segment of the traveling public. There were 514 million business trips made within the United States last year, a number projected to grow 6.1 percent by the end of 2018, according to the Global Business Travel Association.
On Call International, a company that specializes in travel risk management, compiled a Business Travel Productivity Report that evaluated which cities are "best equipped for hosting productive, seamless business travel experiences." The list takes into account five factors: number of on-time flights, cost of lodging, reliability of mobile network coverage, traffic congestion levels and emergency-room performance.
Top 10 cities for business travel
Source: On Call International
"No two cities are exactly the same, and business travelers who are unfamiliar with a particular region can be exposed to a number of risks if not adequately prepared ahead of time," said Thomas Davidson, president of On Call International.
Some might question why hospital efficiency was included in a report about business travel, but according to On Call, it's important to identify any issue with the potential to impact an employee's productivity and health.
"We have to keep in mind an organization's duty of care to its employees," said Davidson. "Arming employees proactively with information about their destinations — from locating areas with safe, reputable hotels to identifying where to find emergency medical care — is one way for an organization to help meet [that duty]."
Each of the factors used in these rankings was determined by On Call's team of senior experts — which included travel risk, security and health-care executives — to play a significant role in dictating both trip efficiency and safety.
Detroit, whose metropolitan area receives about 15.9 million visitors each year, ranked in the top five for every factor considered and was named the best overall city for business travel.
"This ranking could not be possible without the Detroit Metropolitan Airport," said Justin Robinson, vice president of business attraction for the Detroit Regional Chamber. "This world-class facility is the gateway to our community and allows business travelers to quickly and efficiency connect to opportunities both in-market and across the globe."
According to Robinson, there is no community with more experience helping get people, goods and services to market in the safest and most cost-effective method possible. Detroit, he said, is truly built to support global business.
Of course, employees generally don't have the option to choose where their work takes them. Cleveland may have the country's lowest traffic congestion, but that doesn't mean you can't find yourself stuck on a Los Angeles freeway when business calls.
That's why it's key to understand the importance of preparation and risk management within the context of On Call's rankings. Whether you're traveling to No. 1 Detroit or unranked New York City, a little bit of planning can go a long way in keeping employees safe, healthy and productive.