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Top 5 Business Travel Trends

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Less is generally more, especially when it comes to business travel trends for 2010. Business travel will be flat from 2009, and down from just a few years ago. That means that business travelers need to make sure be more effective when they do travel -- planning trips to maximize their travel dollar and making sure the trip really has the potential to pay off.

The business travel forecast is for less, but smarter travel, mixed airline and hotel costs and more options for greener travel. Shorter trips and fewer checked bags may make it time to re-evaluate packing strategies.

1. Traveling Less

As Dorothy said in The Wizard of Oz, there’s no place like home -- even for the business traveler.

Many organizations are continuing to limit travel budgets, so you might be staying home to save money. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get new business another way.

If you simply need some face time, video conference capabilities such as Cisco's TelePresence have come a long way. They allow you to see and interact with remote meeting participants in real time. Basic webcams might even work for some internal meetings.

Alternatively, Web conferencing services like GoToMeeting and WebEx have made it easy to not only talk with clients or business partners but share documents, collaborate, and demonstrate products or run software.

2. Traveling Greener

Just because you’re traveling for business doesn’t mean you can’t help take care of the planet too.

For example, flying nonstop can be significantly more carbon-friendly than stopovers. Or, consider taking more efficient forms of transportation, such as trains or one of the newer business-oriented bus lines that operates in some metropolitan areas.

Once you’re at your destination, try to use public transportation or share a ride with fellow travelers. Bring your own water bottle to stay hydrated.

And don’t forget your eco-manners just because you’re staying in a hotel -- reuse the towels, take short showers, turn off the lights and keep the heat or air-conditioning as neutral as possible. It all adds up!

3. Harder Flying / Easier Overnights

It will be a mixed year out there for airline and hotel bargains. A recent survey indicates that airlines can expect business fares to increase 1 to 6% in 2010 (after declining 7% in 2009), while hotels will continue to see declining occupancy rates. That means that business travelers should expect slightly higher airfares and fewer empty seats when they get to airport, but perhaps even more deals when they’re looking for a hotel.

Start saving money by planning business trips in advance and booking flights early to avoid last minute premiums.

4. Traveling Smarter

With budgets tight and uncertain economic prospects it’s more important than ever for business travelers to show a significant return on their travel investments. Smarter business trips start with upfront planning.

  • Optimize client visits by using a GPS or websites such as Google Maps to plan the best routes.

  • Back up business expenses by automating receipt tracking.

  • Simplify packing and unpacking by purchasing a multi-purpose charger that works for phones, iPods, cameras and other gadgets.

  • Fly economy, not business class.

  • If you have multiple destinations, plan your stops back-to-back, instead of flying home in between.

5. Packing Lighter

With fees for extra bags, new security screenings, and more crowded planes, it’s never been more important to pack lightly.

If you travel frequently, start with a list—that way you’re not grabbing things at the last minute and tossing extra weight into your bag. Check it twice and cross off everything that you absolutely can’t live without.

If you’ll be taking public transportation or negotiating city streets with luggage, consider this convertible carry-on bag that’s a combination backpack/suitcase. A convertible carry-on (LL Bean sells them too) is light and straps to your back for a real mobile worker.

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