Is business travel coming back?

Apparently yes, according to a new report from Eden Prairie-based Travel Leaders. Of more than 200 travel agents it surveyed, 67 percent said they expected business bookings in 2010 to match or exceed bookings in 2009.

The survey also found indications that corporate travel policies are starting to ease as the economic doldrums of the past two years seem to lessen. Travel Leaders President Roger Block said more business travelers are starting to fly in the pricier first class and business class sections.

According to survey results, business travel remains more of a last-minute decision despite higher fares. Nine out of 10 agents said their business clients book flights two weeks or less prior to their travel date; nearly three-fourths of the agents said international travel is booked one to three weeks prior to travel.

As far as lodging, seven in 10 agents said business clients were booking the same level of hotel accommodations that they had in the past while 17 percent said business travelers were trading up to nicer digs.

NY, NY

The Minneapolis law firm of Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi last week announced plans to open a New York office, luring three experienced trial lawyers from international legal giant Lovells.

Managing partner Steve Schumeister said David Leichtman, Hillel Parnessand Bryan Vogel are intellectual property lawyers.

Schumeister said additional partners and associates also will eventually staff the New York office, which is Robins' first venture into Manhattan. Robins now has offices in Atlanta, Boston, Los Angeles and Naples, Fla.

Eyes on the prize

Two Minneapolis ad agencies are on Advertising Age's 10 agencies to watch in 2010. They are Fallon and Olson.

The industry trade publication said Fallon is showing stability and momentum after being on the road to be "the next storied agency to vanish off the map." Under the direction of CEO Chris Foster, Fallon "has slowly inched back from the precipice" and demonstrated "potent creative chops" for the likes of Travelers Insurance and TheLadders.com.

Ad Age also praised Fallon for landing a host of new business in 2009, including Boston Market, Alpo, Cruzan Rum, Charter Communications and Chrysler.

Ad Age said Olson "embodies the nascent creative renaissance currently afoot in Minneapolis." It said the independent agency has posted 11 straight years of double-digit growth and has built its reputation on project work for big-name clients such as Target and General Mills.

"Expect to read about Olson landing even bigger fish next year," Ad Age wrote, noting that Olson "is progressing into a shop trusted with agency-of-record responsibilities."

Retreat to Peru

The next corporate retreat for the Prouty Project is a nine-day venture into the Peruvian Amazon where corporate executives will push themselves "Survivor"-style while building a medical clinic for area residents.

Founder Jeff Prouty calls these retreats "stretch" trips where executives and board directors tackle challenges beyond their day job.

Prouty, who advises companies with strategic planning and organization, has been sending executives to exotic locations for two decades. Prouty and expedition leader Peter Bailey will meet with potential participants on Tuesday.

DAVID PHELPS