U.S. Travel Officials Fight Back

March 31, 2009

Business travel has been pummeled by the public reaction to corporate entertaining, particularly by businesses that have received federal relief funds. Now, as this story in today's New York Times explains, the travel industry is starting to push back.

As the piece explains, "In a lobbying effort spearheaded by the U.S. Travel Association, industry representatives have met with President Obama, released a flurry of statistics about the economic contribution of meetings and events ($101 billion in spending, one million jobs) and have even established a 'rapid-response war room' to address 'false accusations against legitimate travel activities.' "

According to the story, a USTA study showed that hotel companies lost $220 million business in January and February alone. Starwood Hotels and Resorts, where group revenue is down 40 percent so far this year and cancellations are up 50 percent, was forced to lay off 10 percent of its staff, about 6,000 employees.Â

The story goes on to make the case that most business travel is justifiable (in that it has a healthy impact on areas like product sales, customer loyalty and employee retention) and more often than not does not involve senior-level executives.Â