As economy tanks, is business travel about to go down the tubes?

Written by admin on September 23, 2008 – 2:47 pm -

How are business travelers coping with sky-high fares and air travel hassles? They aren’t.

Many are opting for alternatives rather than face-to-face meetings.

Michael Roth, owner and consultant at Horizons Aloft, says he travels during the beginning of a project and for sales meetings. During the non-critical phases, he uses conference calls and video-conferencing. Roth believes this is more efficient in increasing productivity and reducing costs.

Isobel Warren, a writer and professional speaker, admits she’s definitely feeling the pinch. “As an independent business person, I count every penny and these days and I’m counting them twice,” she says. “Because of rising costs and diminished service, I am traveling less and conducting more research by phone or via the Internet.”

Warren feels there’s no substitute for face-to-face encounters. As a result, she feels that decreased travel may diminish her effectiveness.

Other executives rely on conferencing services such as Go to Meeting as much as possible.

Still, many feel the lack of personal contact will have a negative impact on business. People like to shake hands before doling out contracts.

Marc Casto, owner of Casto Travel, says that as a member of the travel community, he can vouch that many companies are significantly reducing non-essential travel. With the faltering economy and higher travel costs, plus reduced frequency of flights, this comes as no surprise.

Casto says many of his clients are looking for ways to trim 25 percent or more off of their business travel costs since it’s a means of boosting profit. “When you take into consideration that airfares are expected to increase by another 10 to 15 percent by the end of the year — on top of at least that much of an increase year over year — the only way to achieve that type of cost savings is through a significant reduction in the number of flights booked.”

One barometer is the announcements within the hotel industry. Over the last few years there has been a surge of new rooms added into the US market with the expectation that the travel boom of the last two years would continue. Now, a number of the properties are revising their forecasts and are looking increasingly downwards.

How are you compensating and what accommodations are you or is your company making? Clearly in this economic environment, people are going to need to be increasingly creative.

Karen Fawcett is president of Bonjour Paris

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Posted in Consumer Traveler |