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The same source also contends that the prevailing attitude towards productivity, with an expectation of more output per employee, has also had its toll on the length of meetings:

‘Those conventions that used to be three room nights are often now two, and the number of day meetings is growing at the expense of residential ones’.

Most sources, however, agree that, in terms of numbers of meetings at least, there has been greater demand for such events in 2011 than in 2010 (itself a year of recovery). According to Advito’s analysis, this is because improved business results have given some companies the confidence to increase their overall meeting spend – with the result that supply is beginning to tighten (particularly in mature markets with high demand such as London and New York) owing to sustained increases in occupancy levels. As a result, meeting planners are beginning to encounter availability challenges with increasing frequency, particularly heading into 2012.

As demand continues to impact availability, particularly in primary markets, meeting organisers are increasingly considering secondary or even tertiary destinations. Another distinct trend has been rising demand for meetings in emerging markets, such as China and India. As these countries’ economies expand, Western companies are holding more meetings in them to support their growing local businesses.

However, Advito also notes that while some companies have loosened their purse-­‐strings slightly after the conspicuous austerity of meetings during the recession, spend per meeting has been relatively flat. Consequently, meeting planners are being challenged to deliver the same quality of events as in previous years in spite of increasing supplier costs such as hotel rates, food and beverage, and airfares.

The American Express/CFO Research Global Business and Spending Monitor results support the Advito contention that corporate travel budgets have generally been on the move up in 2011. In last year’s Monitor, only 26 percent of respondents said they had plans to increase travel spending in the year ahead. This year, 41 percent of all respondents say they expect their companies to boost spending on business travel.

However, it is interesting to note how that additional expenditure is being used. The Monitor’s authors conclude that for the majority of the companies surveyed, revenue-­‐ supporting trips are clearly a priority. This year, 34 percent of all respondents said that they expected to increase spending on travel for meetings with new or potential clients. Meanwhile, the categories targeted for the biggest decreases in spending this year include travel for staff meetings and other internal business (33 percent), and travel for industry conferences, management retreats, and professional development (32 percent).

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