by David Maranzana
President of Epoque Hotels
Research has found that cutting on travel expense may not be the solution for good business. Travelling and being able to have face-to-face meeting still pays, even in uncertain moments like these. This topic was tackled by an article appeared on the International Herald Tribune some time ago.
With the crisis, many companies had to cut corners. Some, up to 85 % in the USA according to the National Business Travel Association, have decided to curb travel expenses, possibly because they considered something they could spare. However, two separate and independent research projects led by the NBTA and the US Travel Association found a relation between business travel and corporate profit.
“We are social beings,” said Henry H. Harteveldt, travel analyst for Forrester Research. “There are emotional as well as rational benefits to face-to-face meetings. Nothing replaces two business people building a professional relationship in person.”
Thus, although it might seem counter-intuitive, in the long run allocating budget for that business trip overseas might be worth it. Being able to connect in person with a client may as well be decisive in the event he or she had to make some cutbacks. Chances are that that person might feel more inclined to keep doing business with you rather with the other “faceless” client whom he spoke to only by email or over the phone.
Moreover, negotiations might benefit from in-person business meetings as well. The Herald’s article mentions the example of a technology consulting company that was stalling during the negotiations for two major projects. Brian Parish, the president of the company, flew over to meet the other parties and he was able to secure two important accounts. “They were two clients we probably wouldn’t have had without making the trip. It showed them we were serious,” concluded Parish.
Also in my area of business, which entails having contact with a great number of people all over the world, I have observed that when I was able to make a personal contact with a client we were both able to enhance our business relationship with minor efforts. I sure subscribe to the view that travelling for business is still worth it.