Business travel budgets were battered in 2009. Meetings were cancelled. Tighter corporate transient travel restrictions were implemented. The recession played a role in these decisions. And so did tactics of public and political intimidation – accusations of corporate greed and extravagance were attached to business travel investments.

Experts say that in 2009 many business travel budgets were slashed between 20% and 40%.

But the year wasn’t a complete waste. The business travel industry faced these challenges and began a process to change perceptions. Several studies were conducted and released that show business travel is an investment in business development and employee education activities that drive up profitability. And these will prove useful for those who are planning their 2010 business travel budgets.

Christine Duffy, president and CEO of Maritz Travel, St. Louis, says that the market is now looking for ways to grow top line revenue, and organizations know that vehicles such as face-to-face meetings and attending trade shows are proven ways to grow revenue.

Christopher Pike, principal for travel and tourism at IHS Global Insight, Philadelphia, agrees. He explains that pricing factors are favorable right now in business travel, so it’s more important to focus on the investment value of business travel.

But while organizations increase their focus on business meetings and events, they are also likely to continue many of the current restrictions on corporate transient travel into 2010. That means reduced budgets for travel and entertainment, so executives will need to make careful choices about where and when they travel.

Photo: Christine Duffy, President & CEO of Maritz Travel (courtesy image)

Originally Published October 16, 2009