The Next Big Thing: Strategic Meetings Management

A few very fascinating trends and facts emerged from this week's NBTA webinar "The Next Big Thing in Travel: 2010 and Beyond," and I'd like to share a few with you.
The webinar was hosted by Craig Banikowski, newly-elected President  & CEO of NBTA. Weighing in, too, were Tony D'Astolfo, VP of Worldwide Sales at Rearden Commerce and Susan Steinbrink, Sr. Research & Corporate Market Analyst at PhoCusWright. The group saw six big trends:

1. The continued need to measure business travel ROI (and I'd like to add meetings ROI, too),
2. The growing importance of managing travel demand, including making decisions on the appropriateness and effectiveness of staging virtual meetings (such as teleconferencing, video conferencing and TelePresence),
3. The bundling and unbundling of travel services (e.g., the unbundling of checked baggage fees from what used to be a free air travel service) and the importance of incorporating management of that trend into budgets and policies,
4. The growth of environmentally friendly travel and development of policies,
5. The use of social media tools to do things like communicate with travelers and meetings attendees, help spread the word about policy and correcting misinformation,
6. Creating a strategy (and working with your IT department) to bring new control over mobile phone costs and add new value to the burgeoning number of device users.

These were some brilliant overviews and predictions. But I have to say, I was particularly drawn to one statistic as part of the Demand Management (trend #2). From NBTA's own 2010 US Business Travel Buyers' Forecast came this: 53% of travel professionals interviewed said that they plan to centralize meetings management or implement an SMMP in 2010. But even more remarkable is the percentage change from 2009 showing those planning this strategic move -- up 67%.

Of the 15 cost-containment measures listed, it was, by far, the highest rate of growth.

As far as the meetings industry goes, we may be facing a difficult year of recovery, but it heartens me to see that it's also going to be a year of new opportunity for advancing strategic meetings management.

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