More Meetings in 2011

American Express Business Travel’s annual Global Business Travel Forecast sees more, smaller meetings and lower per-attendee budgets

Next year, companies will hold more meetings, but they will be smaller and skimpier. While companies will spend more on meetings overall, the per-attendee budget will shrink.

That is the prediction of American Express Business Travel, which released its annual Global Business Travel Forecast last week. All in all, the now-common phrase “cautiously optimistic” sums it up pretty well.
The report predicts that companies will likely increase the frequency of meetings, but that those meetings are likely to be smaller in scale, targeting a specific and carefully chosen group of attendees in order to make the events as effective as possible. 
Thus the overall meetings budget will increase, but the per-attendee spend will be further reduced as companies cut back on amenities.
At the same time, the study predicts that more meetings will be held at the local or regional level. However, spending on audio/visual services for those meetings will rise, as will the use of virtual meetings as both a supplement and an alternative to face-to-face experiences.
Planners will continue to plan and book corporate meetings with short lead times, with approvals coming as business milestones are met—which will hurt meetings professionals’ ability to constrain costs.

Another trend that will drive budgets up in 2011 is an expected increase in hotel and airfare rates, said Christa Degnan Manning, director of eXpert insights and research for American Express Business Travel. “Throughout 2010, companies have lifted travel restrictions brought on by red bottom line fears,” she said. “This is expected to continue into 2011 as firms look more toward growing the top line. Yet pricing power will swing back to air and hotel suppliers for the first time in two years in 2011 as more competition for limited seats on planes and increased occupancy levels at hotels are expected.”
Specifically, the Global Business Travel Forecast predicts:
2011 Forecast Airfare and Hotel Cost Increases

 

 Airfares 

 Hotel rates 

 

Domestic/Short-Haul 

(Economy Class)

International/Long-Haul 

(Business Class)

Mid-range

Upper-range

North America 

2% to 6%

3% to 7%

1% to 5%

2% to 6%

Europe/Middle East

4% to 9%

5% to 9%

1% to 6%

2% to 6%

Latin America 

3% to 7%

3% to 8%

1% to 5%

2% to 6%

Asia-Pacific

3% to 8%

5% to 10%

5% to 10%

5% to 10%

The Global Business Travel Forecast, produced by American Express Business Travel’s Global Advisory Services research practice, eXpert insights, includes pricing predictions for 89 types of air fares (business and economy class tickets for long-haul, short-haul and trans border flights originating in 21 countries), as well as expected negotiated hotel rates for mid-range and upper-range properties in 317 North American cities, 36 Latin American cities, 127 European and Middle East cities and 55 Asia-Pacific cities. It is available for $495 for existing American Express Business Travel clients and $995 for non-Business Travel clients.