• 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.
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.
• 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.
• 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.
• 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.
• 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.
• 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.