NEW YORK — When the economy collapsed last fall, many companies had to make some quick decisions about travel, typically one of the first areas they trim when finances are tight. Should they cut back as most of their competitors were, continue business as usual or spend even more to get a leg up?
Most companies — about 85% — decreased travel spending, according to the National Business Travel Association, a trade group. But two recent reports, commissioned independently by the business travel association and another trade group, the U.S. Travel Association, found a clear link between business travel and corporate profit.
While both groups have an interest in promoting business travel, Henry H. Harteveldt, travel analyst for Forrester Research, agreed that in-person meetings were important in promoting business.
“We are social beings,” he said. “There are emotional as well as rational benefits to face-to-face meetings.”
Ultimately, he added, “Nothing replaces two business people building a professional relationship in person.”
But he said companies should avoid unnecessary expenses and ensure that travel was purposeful. With forethought, Mr. Harteveldt said, “there can be enormous benefits.”
But companies must be careful not to overreact. Relying too much on technology or cutting back too sharply, he said, “can be just as harmful as wasting money on business travel.”
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Source: The New York Times