Amex Forecast: Higher Meetings Spend, Better Management in 2010

Every fall, Amex surveys the business travel and meetings scene and predicts where spending and pricing will go in the coming year -- usually in time to help travel and meetings managers who are creating and finalize budgets. And this year, there's some great news to be extracted from the firm's Global Business Travel Forecast.

Next year, Amex sees rates at U.S. hotels continuing to decline (1-4% for mid-range hotels and 3-6% for upper-range properties), while, globally, the forecast range is a 3% decline to a 2% increase (due to possible growth just about everywhere but in the U.S).  Airfares for
U.S. travelers will rise (domestic and short-haul economy fares by 2%-7% and international and long-haul business class fares by 3%-8%). But globally, it's a more tempered outlook: up to 5% for short-haul routes and 1%-6% higher for long-haul.

While that's a mixed bag of good/bad news (depending on whether you're a supplier or buyer), the pent up demand for business travel and meetings should kick in during 2010, and the spending will be better managed. How could the news be better -- more meetings managed smarter?

"Companies will have more formal oversight of their meeting planning and meetings spending in 2010," says the press release summarizing the report. This confirms the growing trend in companies adopting strategic meetings management. "In addition, companies are expected to loosen purse-strings on events and conferences, with potential in-roads made by travel category managers adopting strategic meetings management programs."

An interesting side note: Amex's forecast was unveiled to the press via telepresence and teleconference technologies, connecting people face-to-face from New York, Brighton in the UK and Mexico City. While the company went that route to publicize its new virtual meetings
eXpert solution, the use of the technology clearly demonstrates how firms today are using the tools to cut costs yet increase ROI for certain types of events.

"The existence of these travel alternatives and changes in business policies underscores the new emphasis on measuring the return on investment in business connections and shifted focus on getting more trips out of the same budget," added the release.

Read more in my September 3rd post about how virtual meetings technologies can be used successfully -- but sourced, overseen carefully and incorporated into an SMMP.

Kevin Iwamoto is vice president of enterprise strategy at StarCite. This post is syndicated from his blog, Strategic Meetings Management.