by Rob Hard
Tuesday January 12 2010

Check out my business travel view, Business Travel Critics Not Invited to 2010 Meetings and Events” which explores this issue in more depth.

Last year, business travel critics were given more time than they deserved to negatively impact this industry. Many organizations in the U.S. canceled planned business travel, meetings and events – reducing their budgets by 20-40%. Some decisions were a result of legitimate financial pressures, and others were a result of unwarranted political attacks, biased media coverage and subsequent public disapproval.

“As far as the damage, if you look at the headlines, you will see how much business it cost us from the political grandstanding and everyone going to the microphone,” comments Chris Myers, vice president of sales for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.

The industry ultimately defended itself and provided studies that proved a return on investment. Most politicians and some others now realize what they were attacking: a US$246 billion industry that serves as one of the largest sources of commerce in nearly every state.

But the damage that began with the criticism of AIG business events in 2008 and continued into the first half of 2009 has been done. And few have even begun to consider the residual effect this will have on commercial liabilities.

What should we learn from this?

Maybe that it’s a good time to go back to basics when justifying business travel and events: growing brand awareness, educating constituents, enhancing business development, bringing products to market and expanding profits.

Meeting and event planners around the country have a daunting task this year: managing under budget cuts, doing more with less, reduced staffing resources, pushing to deliver programs more quickly and more.

But 2010 is showing some signs of a slow turnaround, and many are optimistic. Even Las Vegas, which lost about 25% of its projected business meetings in 2009, is noticing an increase for 2010.

And as for those who criticized the work behind business travel, they should not be invited to the planning table in this new decade. Only time will tell if self-interested critics will revive their views and try to gain media attention again.

2010 Business Travel Budgets Will Focus on Growing Revenue

2010 Business Travel Budgets Increase for Business Meetings

Global Business Travel Budgets Projected to Grow Between 2009 – 2013