The Truth About Management Consultant Travels

Written by . Posted in Consulting Industry

Group of four leaders smiling on the background of the airplane

Management consultants are known not only for their prestigious role but for their numerous travel engagements. Travel seems to be one of the defining characteristics of consultants regardless of the firm they work for. Working as a consultant generally provides plenty of opportunities to travel, both locally and internationally.

However, many people have a lot misinformation about consulting travel. Here’s the truth about what it is like to travel as a consultant.

Consultants DO NOT Always Travel in Business Class Flights to Explore Continents Every Week

While yes, business class flights are provided for select projects and distances, it is not all the time. Consultants indeed fly business class but they also fly an equal number of economy flights. Also, international projects wherein you’ll need to traverse five different countries in the course of a week of two would be rather occasional. Most travels as a consultant are for domestic projects.

Consultants DO NOT Spend Months in the Farthest Flung Areas

This is the extreme opposite of being overly glamorous. Many people also think that consultants are often required to travel to far-flung areas. While yes, it is not impossible for a management consultant to find himself working in a city that has a few redeeming qualities, such would happen probably just once or twice throughout his career. Consultants work most of the time in large cities and developed countries.

You Will Also Work While Travelling

Yes, there would be time that you’ll need to create a PowerPoint presentation on a flight to make it to the crucial meeting, but it does not happen every single time. Consultants tend to spend part of flight time working only for international travel projects. Why? Because such projects have a higher level of pressure to succeed, both from the client and the firm. It is true that you’ll need to beat a few deadlines wherein you may have to rush from the airport to the client. But the key phrase “a few” must be highly considered.

Consultants DO HAVE a Choice about Where They Work

It is not true that consultants don’t have a choice when it comes to project location and selection. Client choice heavily depends on two things – consultant’s performance on previous projects and seniority. But that doesn’t mean that the mediocre-performing, junior-level consultants would be staffed on lower-interest projects in less-attractive locales. They too can sway staffing decisions in their favor. Staffing is done based on one’s background, interests, preferences and ability to build relationships with the firm’s management

NOT Everything Is Reimbursable

Flights, baggage fees, and travel insurance are reimbursable consulting travel expenses. However, finance charges are usually not reimbursable. Generally, firms will pay for it immediately so you won’t have to carry the cost on your credit card. As far as the airline and hotel upgrade fees, they are seldom reimbursable. Also, incidentals outside the normal meals are typically not covered. In terms of ground transportation, that is generally covered too. However, you should not expect a client to reimburse a limo service. That is just unreasonable, right?

Consultants DO NOT Effortlessly Rack up User Hotel Points/Miles to Enjoy Countless Free Vacations

Many people think that because consultants tend to travel a lot, they easily become Mr. Platinum, Gold, Diamond, Titanium or what have you. Many think that consulting travel means free upgrades on every flight, on every hotel room due to accumulated points of frequent travel. While yes, many consultants do rack up some serious points, it is because they have been in the industry longer than others. Consultants enjoying a certain “status” on every major airline or hotel chain are more likely the senior ones. So it’s really not effortless. And remember, such status won’t last forever. Once you quit consulting, you’ll not be able to enjoy such lifestyle.