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Executives Have New Reason to Fear Flying

Photonics Spectra
Dec 1999
Gaynell Terrell

The senior manager who drives a company car to a doctor's appointment for a free medical examination while checking by company-leased mobile phone on dinner reservations at the country club where he enjoys membership on the company dole is in for a shock.

When it comes to business travel, many companies are opting for pronounced cuts in so-called incentivized travel. Managers accustomed to a privileged lifestyle in and out of the office are finding themselves --please say it isn't so -- flying coach.

A new study by PricewaterhouseCoopers shows the same companies that happily toss cars and phones into the perquisite pool are less willing to pad the expense account where travel is concerned. And less travel is needed as teleconferencing and the use of intranets increases.

First-class travel was found to be down 11 percent since 1997 and the use of company aircraft down 12 percent. Nine percent fewer companies reported they would OK the use of executive drivers.

Heather S. Tooker, general manager of polarized optics manufacturer Meadowlark Optics of Frederick, Colo., and a board member of the Colorado Photonics Industry Association, said small and medium-sized companies keep a close watch on the bottom line.

"Size matters. On the whole, very few photonics companies have those [travel] perks unless the company is a division of a larger company," Tooker said.

She agreed that the use of the Web and e-mail has in many cases eliminated the need for sales and marketing travel.

And when it comes to flying coach, the perk may be in getting to stay home, she said.

Businesslight speed

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