Corporate America is cutting business travel and meetings — and there's no end in sight, according to two recent surveys. Interestingly, international travel has not been affected as much as travel within the States.

When asked if their company has cut back on domestic travel to cope with the economic slowdown, 54 percent of the 47 corporate travel managers who participated in a survey conducted by travel management company Runzheimer International said yes. Only 26 percent reported a decrease in international travel.

Companies are cutting domestic travel costs in a number of ways, according to the Runzheimer survey. Nearly all respondents — 96 percent — are taking fewer trips. In addition, 64 percent said they are reducing or eliminating attendance at conferences and seminars; 36 percent are doing more teleconferencing and videoconferencing; 56 percent are booking nonrefundable tickets; 36 percent have eliminated first-class travel; and 32 percent are booking less expensive hotels.

The survey also found that large companies are cutting costs more than smaller companies: Only 44 percent of organizations with travel budgets under $5 million have reduced travel.

Another survey, conducted by the Business Travel Coalition in Radnor, Pa., reported similar trends. Of the 62 participating companies, 86 percent said that they are planning to reduce travel expenditures in 2001, with an average cost-cutting goal of 28 percent.

According to the study, cost-cutting interventions appear more strategic than in earlier economic downturns and are likely to last longer. “For a variety of reasons, when the economy rebounds, business travel levels will likely not snap back as in previous downturns.”