Business is fueled by relationships; there is no replacement for face-to-face meetings and conferences when it comes to generating new and repeat business. The business travel market is currently facing huge challenges. PhoCusWright expects corporate travel to decline 15% in 2009. Travel budgets are facing reductions and political pressure. Some expect video conferencing to become a viable alternative to travel. But live meetings and conferences must continue to play a prominent role in every company’s client acquisition and retention strategy.
No Replacement for a Handshake
While it is true that there are alternatives to business travel, there is no replacement for the face-to-face connections that come with a flight and a hotel room. Preliminary results of a Harvard Business Review survey show that respondents overwhelmingly feel that face-to-face meetings are key to forging long term relationships and sealing the deal. PhoCusWright’s U.S. Corporate Travel Distribution Fourth Edition shows that video conferencing may supplement or supplant internal meetings, but will not replace client meetings and conferences.
We cannot forget that business travel is a primary means of generating revenue from existing clients and converting prospects into customers. The rate of return on business travel can be quite substantial. Attendance at a meeting or conference can generate new leads, new contracts and new revenue. Staying at home on the sidelines can cost you significantly more in lost opportunities than the price of the flight, hotel room and conference registration.
Travel Executives Walk the Talk
While the industry fights to salvage business travel in 2009, it would be counterproductive for travel companies to also cut travel expenses to the bone. As evidenced by the very strong level of registration for The PhoCusWright Conference, travel leaders are still traveling. In fact, The PhoCusWright Conference recently recorded its highest highest single-day registration sales ever. Many leading travel executives will be in attendance November 17-19 in Orlando—see what companies have already registered.
There is simply no substitute for live, face-to-face networking and meetings to drive business development and revenue—exactly what we need in the current environment. Companies that realize the value of business travel and manage it wisely will reap its rewards.
The PhoCusWright Conference—a travel expense worth fighting for.