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by Mary MacGregor and Matthew Wall | August 01, 2011
Factors

• Globally, consumer optimism has replaced pessimism.

• Economic growth hasn't taken place as quickly as predicted.

• The number of meetings, number of delegates and budgets all are increasing slowly.

• Technology has become a mainstream concern.

• Social media has changed the game with respect to service and marketing.

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The following checklist was compiled by Mary MacGregor, vice president of account development for BCD Meetings & Incentives (bcdmi.com), and Matthew Wall, vice president of marketing and communications, EMEA, also of BCD. It is adapted from a presentation about global buying indicators and emerging industry trends, encouraging travel and meeting planners to be proactive in response to marketplace challenges.

Destination Selection
• Ensure you have security and risk management plans in place, and let your clients know about them up front.
 
• Proactively communicate destination con­ditions ahead of any bad press that could leave clients and attendees with the wrong impression.

• Consider the impact of emerging markets with respect to your meeting plans; growth in travel in these markets might affect flight and lodging availability.

• Be prepared to accommodate clients who are ready to return to international travel.

• Consider flight access, which has become a paramount concern to business professionals.

• Assess visa and document entry requirements.

Travel Costs
• Due to high oil prices, plan for a 10 to 15 percent increase in air costs as a part of overall budgets.

• Book as early as possible. Don't wait, because prices are likely to increase.

Hotel Selection
• Plan for moderate increases in hotel rates: about 3.5 percent in North America, 2.5 percent in Europe, 5 percent in Asia Pacific and 6 percent in Latin America.

• Beware that the availability and cut-rate deals of the past two years are beginning to wane. Upscale property rates are returning to pre-recession levels.

• Keep in mind budget constraints as well as compliance and perception issues.

• Be prepared to work with preferred suppliers; strategic meetings management programs have resulted in effective consolidation.

• Compare hotel options with nontraditional meeting venues.

Technology considerations
• Know your audience and how they use mobile and social media technologies.

• Use social media to extend the life of meetings and events.

• Expect to be asked for hybrid and select-service solutions.

• Offer creative technology options as value-adds with your proposed meeting plans.

Negotiations/RFP Process
• Reveal any deal-breaking contract terms up front.

• Don't expect more time to respond to client requests; lead times remain short.

• Ask for creative pricing for volume and/or multiyear agreements.

• Negotiate for more concessions, which corporate planners and procurement can quantify as hard-dollar savings.

• Assume transparent pricing is required as a point of entry.

• Understand that the request for proposal process continues to be largely procurement-driven. Lend your expertise.