Will the Downturn Ground Globetrotting Managers?

  • Will the Downturn Ground Globetrotting Managers?The Find: Just as the economy is going down, a new report concludes that the cost of business travel is going up: is this the end of the globe-trotting manager?
  • The Source: The National Business Travel Association's 2009 Business Travel Overview & Cost Forecast.
The Takeaway: As the CEOs of GM, Ford and Chrysler proved last week when they took private jets to beg congress for a bailout, now is not a good time for conspicuous luxury travel among upper management. With many companies hurting and facing the prospect of job cuts, axing expenses like $36 million dollar trips from Detroit to DC is the least firms can do. But are mid-level managers also likely to find themselves grounded?

All signs point to probably. The NBTA's report projects increases in business travel costs of five to eight percent for 2009, with airfares set to rise at a rate of between seven and ten percent. This comes on top of a June Travel Industry Association report concluding that delays, cancellations and inefficient security screening were prompting managers to avoid travel when possible. Taken together these issues are sure to dampen enthusiasm for business travel. "This year we saw a slowdown in the growth of business travel from the rate of growth we saw in 2004 through 2007. In 2009, we will see a continuation of that slowdown in growth," said NBTA President and CEO Kevin Maguire.
Responses to cost increases are expected to vary company to company, though everyone will probably be counting their pennies. "In some companies, we are already seeing major cutbacks in travel, while other companies have higher travel budgets in place for 2009. Across the board, we can expect to see some changes in the way travel is managed to further maximize value," said Maguire.
Managers everywhere prepare for a recalculation of the value of face time and more scrutiny of submitted expenses.

The Question: Have you been grounded by your firm?

(Image of many tickets by DannyBen, CC 2.0)