When I started working in the meeting and events planning industry 19 years ago, budgets were big, and the Internet was a budding concept that needed to be fully utilized and understood. I was still using a fax machine to distribute press releases and mailing a hard copy, full-color event invitations via the postal service.
Throughout these almost two decades of planning, I have seen our industry rise and falter, challenged by economic factors yet made more robust and respected through uncertainty. Those big budgets have been trimmed, and we’ve streamlined processes through the accelerant of technological advancements. We’ve become more strategic in our planning, treating meetings and events as a business, not just an adjunct to our company’s vision.
But what does the future of our industry hold? Will we continue to ride a roller coaster with the economy or stabilize it in the next year? According to the World Tourism Organization, international tourism is expected to increase by 4 to 5 percent in 2011, with Asia showing the fastest growth. Domestically, the U.S. Travel Association expects 1.8 percent growth in domestic trips and a 3.7 percent increase in international arrivals to the U.S. Although these estimates might not seem high, overall, our industry’s recovery has surpassed expectations. The National Business Travel Association expects global business travel spending to reach $896 billion this year and anticipated growth to $1.2 trillion by 2014.
As business continues to rise, new tools are being developed to assist planners in strategic event management, consolidation, and customer relationship management. The launch of Collaborate is an example of further education and insight for corporate planners. Through the print magazine and website, we will express the voice of the corporate planner, providing meeting management tools specific to your needs. My monthly blog will also give the pulse of industry trends and updates on U.S. and global factors that can affect your meeting. From updates on Transportation Security Administration requirements and travel restrictions to information on hotel renovations, new builds, and closings, I will bring you the latest tips and trends.
As a veteran planner of corporate meetings, I will bring real-world examples and case studies from my experience and your peers to educate and provide insight into our ever-changing industry. I look forward to your feedback and ideas.