"When we analyzed data from the Great Recession and recovery, we learned that companies that invested the most in business travel tended to grow the fastest," said Adam Sacks, managing director of Oxford Economics, who conducted the analysis as a follow up to a study performed in 2009. "After a dip in 2009-2010, domestic business travel spending has recovered and is projected to reach a new peak of $225 billion in 2012."
The report, titled The Role of Business Travel in the U.S. Economic Recovery, provides details on business travel and performance across 14 business sectors over an 18-year period. Oxford Economics also included a survey of business travelers that looked at the role that business travel plays in their corporate performance. Findings from the analysis and survey include:
- Business travel delivers a measurable return on investment. For every dollar invested in business travel, U.S. companies have experienced a $9.50 return in terms of revenue and $2.90 in profits.
- Business travel helps companies obtain new customers and retain existing ones. In-person meetings double the likelihood of "prospect conversion." Business travelers believe that 42 percent of customers would eventually be lost without in-person meetings.
- Business travel is booming. In 2011, U.S. businesses spent $214 billion on domestic travel, surpassing a historic peak from 2007. For 2012, businesses are estimated to have spent $225 billion on U.S. domestic travel, about five percent more than the previous year.
- Business travel translates into jobs, tax revenues and income. Business travel expenditures generated 1.9 million jobs, $59 billion in personal income and $35 billion in tax revenues last year.
Though spending on business meetings and conferences has come back, businesses are increasingly focused on measuring the effect of meetings.
"Meetings can't just be a feel good thing anymore," said Larry Luteran, senior vice president group sales and industry relations of Hilton Worldwide. "Businesses are increasingly measuring ROI based on intricate, predetermined metrics – and are laser focused on content and deliverables going into each meeting."