Every dollar invested in business travel yields an average of $12.50 in increased revenues and $3.80 in new profits.

That's according to the latest research to come out in defense of business travel and meetings — a study commissioned by the U.S. Travel Association and released just last month.

The Return on Investment of U.S. Business Travel study, conducted by Oxford Economics, surveyed 300 corporate executives and 500 business travelers, and included a 13-year economic analysis spanning 14 industries.

The three-part study found that business travel in the United States represents $246 billion in spending and 2.3 million American jobs, with $100 billion of this spend and 1 million American jobs directly linked to meetings and events.

The study also measured the ROI of meetings, trade shows, and incentive travel. According to the findings:

  • Corporate executives and business travelers estimate that 28 percent of current business would be lost without in-person meetings.

  • Executives cited customer-facing meetings as having the greatest returns, resulting in approximately $15 to $19.99 per dollar invested.

  • Participation in conferences and trade shows yields estimated returns of $4 to $5.99 per dollar invested, according to surveyed execs.

  • Corporate executives estimate that in order to achieve the same effect as an incentive travel reward, an employee's total base compensation would need to be increased by 8.5 percent.

  • More than half of business travelers stated that 5 percent to 20 percent of their companies' new customers were gained as a result of trade show participation.

The full report is available at www.tia.org.

Sure, tough times require most employees to do more with less at their jobs, but that doesn't mean your staff should have to grin and bear it. According to Bob Nelson, PhD, management needs to be proactive and positive about recognition in difficult times to keep employees from becoming overloaded and over-stressed. In his new book, Keeping Up in a Down Economy: What the Best Companies Do to Get Results in Tough Times, Nelson draws from his research and experience to provide examples of how managers are keeping employees focused and positive, even with limited resources. By employing a culture of recognition, these organizations are emerging from difficult economic times stronger than before.