By Karen Axelton

Travel consultant Chris McGinnis of the Travel Skills Group has some surprisingly positive news about business travel. A report McGinnis recently did for Best Western found that the Fall 2009 business travel season will not be as bleak for individual, or “unmanaged,” business travelers as it will for their corporate, or “managed,” colleagues.

The report, done in August, surveyed about 300 travelers who spent more than 250 nights at Best Western hotels in the past five years. These respondents say they expect to hit the road this Fall for the same number of nights–or more–compared to last year. In fact, they say their business travel plans haven’t been significantly affected by the recession this year.

More than 80 percent said they have not made any permanent changes in their business travel habits due to the recession. And fewer than one in five think that alternatives such as videoconferencing or virtual meetings are likely to replace conventional business travel in the next six months.

“Unmanaged” business travelers account for 56 percent of all business travelers, according to Forrester Research, which expects their numbers to grow in the current economy. If Forrester is right, these road warriors could be a silver lining for the travel industry.