Face-to-Face Meetings Key to Business Growth, CFOs Say

Sixty-one percent of chief financial officers (CFOs) say corporate spending on business travel will be the same or higher in 2013 as in 2012, according to a new CFO survey by American Express, the results of which were released this week.

The survey of 200 U.S. CFOs and senior financial executives found that face-to-face meetings are the No. 1 reason to invest in business travel: When asked what the most important reasons are to make travel investments, 37 percent of senior finance executives said "building new business" and 35 percent said "retaining current business." And yet, 64 percent said corporate travel policies will continue to be restrictive in pursuit of savings.

"Road warriors can expect to keep visiting new prospects and current customers in 2013 because these are the kinds of trips that drive sales," said Darryl Brown, president, Global Corporate Payments – Americas, American Express. "Businesses will be looking to manage their travel programs with a focus on holding down costs through negotiated discount rates and a strategic emphasis on high-value trips."

American Express also asked CFOs about the looming "fiscal cliff" — 79 percent expect an impact on their companies' growth plans if negotiations are not resolved by the end of 2012 — and about their forecast for 2013: Three in four respondents (75 percent) expect revenue growth for their companies next year and 69 percent increased profits. Meanwhile, three in five (59 percent) are prioritizing investments in growth, with the most popular investments being new technology (61 percent), new product and service development (59 percent), and expansion into new markets (52 percent).

"CFOs are continuing to shift from a defensive posture toward making smart, savvy investments so they can compete and grow," Brown said. "It's encouraging to see that companies expect revenues and profits to expand and plan to spend in areas like new product development, laying the foundation for stronger growth in the future."

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