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Business travel bounces back

For the second consecutive year, the multi-billion dollar global meetings industry will experience solid increases in key economic impact indicators, including spending, international travel, employment and training budgets, underscoring overall fiscal and corporate health, according to FutureWatch 2005, an annual report by Meeting Professionals International (MPI) and American Express.

For the second consecutive year, the multi-billion dollar global meetings industry will experience solid increases in key economic impact indicators, including spending, international travel, employment and training budgets, underscoring overall fiscal and corporate health, according to FutureWatch 2005, an annual report by Meeting Professionals International (MPI) and American Express.

Meeting planners in segments such as corporate, independent and association/non-profit, forecast a 5% budget increase in 2005, building on a 3% increase in 2004. Beyond year-over-year percent estimation, planners also divulged actual budget figures for 2005. When compared to 2004, there is more room for optimism in 2005, as corporate planners report average budgets of US $7.1 million compared to last year’s US $5.3 million; independent budgets climbed to US $11.8 million over US $6.1 million; and association budgets up to US $4.8 million from US $1.4 million.

“The health of the meetings industry mirrors that of business and the economy in general,” says Colin Rorrie, president of MPI. “Increased meeting spend is fuel for a worldwide economic engine. Anecdotal predictions of the demise of face-to-face meetings due to technology or economic challenges haven’t come to pass. Rather, organisations are recognising the value of events as a strategic business tool.

“Business is picking up and budgets are expanding, but the meetings industry will not return to business as usual. The ‘do more with less’ mantra and shortened lead times adopted during a tight economic market are now standard operating procedure. Planners feel pressure to justify the value of their jobs, while suppliers must justify the value of products and services in an increasingly competitive environment,” Rorrie explains.

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