MBAs Spend $20K+ On Social Travel In School

There’s no way around it. An MBA from an elite B-school these days is expensive. But that price tag, which often exceeds $200K, hasn’t deterred MBAs from jet-setting around the world together in the name of FOMO.

WeTravel — an online travel platform that has roots in organizing travel specifically for MBAs — recently released data on travel expenses among those MBAs using its platform. The takeaway: on average in 2018, MBAs spent $21,296 each on social travel during their two years of earning an MBA.

That might not sound like a lot if you’re factoring in work travel. But that is not accounted for in WeTravel’s data. These numbers are purely MBAs jet-setting to far-off places during spring, winter, and summer breaks, as well as long weekends.

According to Zaky Prabowo, the CMO and co-founder of WeTravel, the aggregated data includes interviews with 30 student trip leaders and “hundreds of MBA trips” organized through the UC-Berkeley Haas-launched startup in 2018. Prabowo says the data comes “especially” from students at Harvard Business School, Wharton, Columbia Business School, and New York University’s Stern School.

The data reveal three main findings, Prabowo says. First is the amount that current MBAs are spending on travel and when that travel occurs: The most popular times for MBAs to travel in groups happen before the program starts, winter breaks, spring breaks, the summer between the first and second year, and immediately after graduation. “Additionally, students also go on three long weekend trips with smaller groups throughout the year,” Prabowo wrote in a summary of the data sent to Poets&Quants. “A trip can be as large as 250 people at almost $4,000 per person, including airfare.”


The data also looks at where MBAs are traveling most in their spare time. According to Prabowo, the most popular destinations for MBAs are Japan, Colombia, and Israel, with Morocco and Puerto Rico gaining in popularity. “International travel is very common in top U.S. business schools,” Prabowo wrote. “Students who come from overseas usually lead trips to their home countries. Japan and Israel trips are annual traditions in many schools, while Colombia is popular due to its warm weather and lively atmosphere.”

Loan re-financing startup CommonBond also sent Poets&Quants exclusive data tracking the travel destination of current MBAs. More than 1,200 MBAs from 63 different schools were surveyed and Japan and Israel also topped the list of most popular travel destinations. Patagonia, South Africa, and India rounded out the top five on CommonBond’s list.

In terms of travel within the U.S., San Francisco, New York City, and Las Vegas are the most popular destinations for MBAs, according to WeTravel data.

Pictured left to right are Garib Mehdiyev, CTO, Johannes Koeppel, CEO, and Zaky Prabowo, CMO, of
Photo by Thor Swift for the Financial Times

Lastly, Prabowo says the data revealed MBA trip leaders use around seven planning tools or platforms to manage a group trip. And a few other MBA-founded companies are trying to tap into that market. “For every aspect of trip planning — registration, payment collection, organization, and communication — there are a number of tools available for an MBA trip leader to use,” Prabowo wrote. “Because there is no single tool that covers all aspects, trip leaders use an average of seven planning tools.”

Some other examples include Modo Travel, which was founded at Chicago’s Booth School of Business, Bschool Travel, founded by a team from Michigan’s Ross School of Business, and GoVive, founded at UCLA’s Anderson School of Management.

“MBA students want travel companies that can create personalized, custom-made trips and they have group buying power to ask for the best travel experience,” Prabowo said. “After all, nobody knows how to serve MBA students better than former MBA students themselves.”


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