by Michael J. Shapiro | August 24, 2011

The GBTA Foundation, the research and education arm of the Global Business Travel Association, released new strategic meetings management and travel-spending information this week at the 2011 GBTA International Convention & Exposition in Denver. On Monday, the foundation debuted the Strategic Meetings Management Maturity Index, in partnership with the association's Strategic Meetings Management Taskforce and meetings technology provider StarCite. The index helps companies gauge the progress of their SMM programs, in addition to offering recommendations for further improvement. Best-practice models are applied to analyze SMMPs across 13 categories, among them strategy, data analysis and reporting, policy, approval, technology and sourcing/procurement, taking different program approaches into consideration for the analysis. The tool is being demoed this week at the convention.

On Tuesday, the GBTA Foundation released a comprehensive analysis of global business travel spending, as well as spend projections for the next five years, called the Global Business Travel Spending Outlook 2011-2012. Sponsored by Visa, the report reveals that business spending is on the upswing. After falling worldwide by 7.8 percent in 2009, spend was up 8.4 percent in 2010 and is expected to grow another 9.2 percent this year, to more than $1 trillion. Compound annual growth in the emerging markets of China, India, Russia and Brazil is projected to outpace by two or three times that of developed economies like the U.S., U.K., France and Germany. Projections have China leading the way, with 11.2 percent growth over the next five years, compared to a spending increase in the U.S. of 3.8 percent. The complete study is available here.

The GBTA is hosting nearly 6,000 attendees for its 2011 International Convention & Exposition in Denver. The event, which has drawn more than 1,200 travel buyers, began Sunday night and runs through tonight. The association has announced several new international initiatives, such as an increased presence in Latin America through the formation of local chapters in Argentina, Colombia, Costa Rica and Peru. The association already has a presence in Mexico and Brazil. Additionally, GBTA's Business Travel Index, which gauges the relative health of the industry, will soon be launched for the Latin American, European and Asian markets. Also announced on Monday is the launch, in beta, of the GBTA Hub, a members-only social network that facilitates the sharing of professional insight and offers access to the association's library of white papers and educational material.