Business Travel's Ripple Effect

Alisha Thomas lives in a modest apartment in West Los Angeles.

By: By Kenneth Shapiro

Kenneth ShapiroAlicia lives in a modest apartment in West Los Angeles. She’s young, smart and hard working — putting in long hours at a job she loves. She doesn’t own her own jet, has never received a multimillion-dollar bonus and didn’t get any federal bailout money. If we want this country to rebound from our current economic crisis, we need people like Alicia to thrive.

Unfortunately, however, Alicia is facing an uphill battle because she happens to earn a living as a producer of corporate events, and her industry is facing a mounting challenge as corporations come under pressure to scale back on business events and incentive travel.

"This has had a huge effect on business," Alicia said. "My office has already lost jobs and we’ve just had across-the-board pay cuts. When companies cancel their events, it hurts all of us. It’s a bummer for their hard-working employees, and it also costs jobs."

This tightening of corporate spending has not been limited to the events industry. A recent USA Today article reported that over 70 percent of members of the Association of Corporate Travel Executives said their companies plan to spend less on travel this year compared to 2008.

As a response to these shifting attitudes, six industry groups have teamed up to propose travel guidelines and best practices for U.S. businesses. In addition, the U.S. Travel Association is calling for industry action to counter what it sees as a significant danger to the overall travel industry.

"We have a responsibility to safeguard the long-term reputation of the industry, and do what we can to mitigate the temptation to demonize legitimate business travel and events," said Roger Dow, president and CEO. "It is clear to us that the pendulum already is swinging too far."

For her part, Alicia understands the pressure companies face.

"From a fiscal responsibility standpoint, I can completely understand companies cutting back on their events and business parties," she said. "But people just don’t understand the ripple effect here."