March 18 2009 by Chris McGinnis
...but the reality is that increasing business travel when other companies are cutting back creates an opportunity to poach business from competitors and snag new accounts.
Well, yes, according to the US Travel Association. Granted, this group's raison d'etre is to promote travel, but its mid-February survey of 401 execs at U.S. companies reveals a conflict.
About half of the respondents reported that their companies had recently cut back on business travel spending. But 82 percent agree that business travel is important to their ability to achieve positive results. And 81 percent believe that client contact is necessary during tough times.
"It's a classic tradeoff between short-term cost reductions and long-term value," said Kellogg Business School Professor Daniel Diermeier. "During times like these, many companies will go too far, and actually cut back on the activities that would best position them to compete in the future."
All this reminds me of what investments guru Warren Buffet has been saying lately about being fearful when others are greedy and being greedy when others are fearful. While Buffett's advice relates to investing in stocks, it can also be applied to the investment we all make in business travel.
It also reminds me of a business maxim we've all heard: "If you don't take care of your customers, someone else will."