Sunday, March 15, 2009

Travel Plays An Important Role In A Down Economy

You have to scratch your head listing to some government officials and news media stories trivializing the $800 billion a year travel sector while at the same time desperate to see who gets which slice of the pie from a stimulus package of about the same amount. But regardless of how irrational it is, playing on class issues has sure intimidated some government department heads.

If wisdom prevails over polemics, government will heed the advice given in a USTA survey of businesses with $50 million or more in sales. Seven in ten believe it is important to sustain or increase travel in times like these. Experts warn that during times like these, many organizations will go overboard in cost cutting and risk permanent impairment.

In the survey:

  • 82 percent of companies surveyed believe that business travel is important to achieving their business results;

  • 81 percent believe that more client contact is necessary in a slow economy;

  • 59 percent strongly agree that in-person contact grows their business; and

  • 72 percent of businesses believe that increasing travel while others are cutting back creates an opportunity to build market share and new customer relationships.

Dr. Suzanne Cook, U.S. Travel's Senior Vice President of Research nailed it when she was quoted, "it's also clear from our survey results that the old maxim remains true; if you don't take care of your customers, someone else will."

Government doesn’t have a profit motive and it may not think it has competition. But it faces challenges nonetheless, like sustaining productivity, effectiveness and efficiency. Both business and government are under pressure to quickly identify cost reductions in this downturn. But trivializing travel could very well sacrifice longer-term strength and vitality.

Thanks to my friends at Travelmole for reminding me of this study.

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