After a year of watching the economy cool off and wondering how–or if–it would force changes in business travel, I’ve got my answer. Big changes are on the way. Companies worried about the future are clearly cutting back on the number trips they are willing to authorize and they are cutting costs on the ones still allowed.
Just this week, the National Business Travel Association, a trade organization based in Washington, D.C. predicted that cost cutting measures will continue well into 2009 as a result of the economic slowdown. It expects business travel costs to increase and the number of business trips to grow at a slower rate than in previous years. “Across the board, we can expect to see some changes in the way travel is managed to further maximize value,” said the group’s president in a recent press release. In addition, the Airlines Reporting Corp this week said total U.S. travel agency transactions in October fell by 15 percent year over year.
So for better or for worse, business travelers are going to have to adjust to leaner and meaner times. They are going to be asked to do more on each trip with less of a budget.
If we don’t already, we may be asked to drive instead of fly for shorter trips (think San Francisco to Los Angeles or New York to Washington, D.C., for example) or combine two business trips into one. We might be asked to take less expensive, one-stop flights instead of non-stop flights. And as distasteful as sharing hotel rooms on business trips may feel (see reader comments from my previous post), some of us may have to grin and bear that and other cost-saving measures in the near future.
Where’s your line in the sand? When it comes to cutting costs on business trips, what do you consider a step too far, or the straw that will break the camel’s back?