The general mood in the business travel industry is cautiously optimistic from just a couple years ago. Given the economic challenges facing many markets around the world, the mood of travel professionals is bedoming surprisingly buoyant said Carina Bauer, president of IMEX Group.
A favorable attitude is critical to the industry’s successful future and many leaders in the meetings industry have come together these past two years to promote the value of business travel. They are more confident in conveying the message that investments in business travel translate to increases in business growth. Meanwhile, event planners and meeting suppliers are learning how they can conduct business together.
Planners are looking for added value according to many exhibitors, and want keen pricing, but also looking for additional creativity from suppliers and as many ‘extras’ as they can secure. These may include upgrades, small service extras or simply more favorable booking terms with fewer restrictions. There is also a sense that building strong relationships by meeting face-to-face are being successfully applied.
Meeting professionals and business travelers pay attention to troubled areas, but the security of conventions and meetings didn’t stop 197,400 meetings and 23 million attendees from meeting in Mexico in 2010. This success in Mexico can be attributed to the economic benefits of hosting meetings in Mexico, its 0% on VAT for international meetings and overall value for the currency. For New Orleans, where the local disater arising from Hurricane Katrina in 2005 had 8.3 million visitors in 2010, nearly 23% of which were for business travel, meetings and events. These successes require a commitment from the travel industry, that have positive effects on the local economy.
When it comes to business meeting and convention cities in North America, special attention goes to Las Vegas. Its reputation was probably the hardest hit by political and economic factors these past few years, but comparing year-over-year averages numbers are up by 6.4% and the number of meetings held increased by 2.9%, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.
To be sure, the international business travel, meetings and events industry but if favorable international meetings industry feedback and local commitments to developing vibrant business events are any indication, perhaps the downward spiral in travel has finally leveled off for destinations across North America.