Has the Slowing Economy Hit Business Travel? AP Thinks it Knows

A recent article published by the Associated Press--and picked up by several media outlets--reported that companies are "curtailing travel budgets." While that is no doubt true in many cases, the article is misleading at best.

For starters, AP provides scant evidence of reduced business travel budgets. While it lists a few anecdotes, the article includes no data and no source suggesting a broader trend is underway. In fact, various surveys and comments from travel suppliers have suggested the opposite: amid economic uncertainty, business travel demand appears to be holding up. Most firms--but certainly not all--anticipate more trips in 2008 and higher overall T&E costs.

That may change if economic conditions deteriorate, but in the past month, executives at most major airlines said forward-booking trends looked healthy. Hotel company executives expressed even less concern, suggesting their sector thus far has been insulated from any perceived weakening of the economy, with corporate rates and group volumes trending higher for 2008.