Business Travel and Its Impact on 2009 Meetings

Topics: Associations

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This is an interesting report from AMEX about where business travel is going in 2009 and its possible impact on meeting behavior. While the report focuses on business travel and corporate-type meetings, the correlations to association meetings are obvious.

businessmanAMEX Business Travel Report

The Bottom Line

  1. Airfares and lodging will go up on domestic travel by about 3%, but travelers may see up to a net $400 increase per trip due to bag fees and higher costs for other items such as dining, parking, etc. (OUCH!)
  2. Pressure will be on meetings to prove their value and they will likely feel budgets strained with pressure to raise fees to exhibitors and sponsors while shortening the event overall.

The Key to 2009 Meetings


If your meetings truly offer a great value (not to be confused with cheap), with good educational sessions, meaningful and inspirational networking, and quality on-site educational materials in print and supporting digital media, including social media tools to connect speakers and authors before, during and after the meeting… Well, then you are all set!

Consider the TED events with registration fees of $4500 (Yes, I said $4500!) and up where attendees must submit an application that is accepted or rejected by show management. At those rates, there has to be a value proposition that rocks!

By the way, the conference sells out EVERY YEAR!

Be sure to catch my previous post on “The Value of Conferences” to get five ways you can increase your meetings value.


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October 31st, 2008Jodi Ray says:

I say let’s get back to the basics. Make the event fun with great networking opportunities, but let the attendee walk away with a something they can really use in their profession. What is it that will WOW them and make their investment in your meeting worthwhile? I challenge us all to be creative and wise with our resources.


November 1st, 2008Chris Uschan says:

paul – if I am paying $1500 to $2500 to attend an event — totaling up my travel, reg fees, hotel, etc…

I expect convenience!

i am a busy professional. I want an extremely useful online program to help me choose my sessions in advance.

I want my session materials at the event… you’re kidding me if I am paying $2000 and the event is going to make me do my own printing.

I expect good education!

I want top of the line educational sessions. There’s nothing worse than having to session hop due to a bad speaker or a mis-represented session to its description.

I want to network!

Social time is important. Provide many opportunities for this and even use online social tools (forums) that allow you to follow session discussions after the session ends.

If this means downsizing on the frizzle frazzle of 6 course meals or big receptions… then do it. And to jodi’s point above. I want to walk away feeling like my money was well spent.

Twitter: chrisuschan


November 3rd, 2008Beth from Avenue Z says:

Have you been to any of those TED events? I watch the videos, and they give me chills. Now that’s a great example of not only providing great conference value on site and continuing the value of the sessions all year long. Wish there were more events like that.

Twitter: AvenueZ


November 3rd, 2008Paul Wehking - Omnipress says:

OK… if I am not stretching your comments to far that’s appears to be three for three on Networking, Education & Fun as staples of a good event. Now, tell me more about what your prefer for education. Is is interactive or lecture style sessions? Materials is print on posted on a website in advance? Does it vary by group. Help me nail this down!

Twitter: paulwehking


November 3rd, 2008Tony says:


I agree with you. Value is key especially as we all tighten our belts. I’ll forgo the fancy schmancy shrimp appetizer something and the cheesecake something dessert. Nice to have but I’d rather have a book still handed to me at the registration desk, than to have to print my own material, or try to read my program on my phone with a 1 inch screen. By the way, who’s saving the money, and who benefits? Not me. My registration fees keep going up but I’m getting less. Talk about value…or lack there of.



November 3rd, 2008Bob Hamm says:

2009 will be another challenging year for the meetings profession. Those of us that have been around for a while have seen these before.

Rethink your marketing approach. Doing what you have always done, might not allow you to have the same results due to the changes in the economy.

I agree, keep the main emphasis on great educational sessions and beef up the networking opportunities.

Look for ways to connect returning as well as new attendees.

Put out an offer to past attendees. Why are they no longer attending?

If the attendees or members don’t see value in your offerings and your event, they will seek it from another source.


November 4th, 2008Beth from Avenue Z says:


Professionals come together into societies for different reasons, with education and networking being the cornerstone of each. But to really design a program that makes sense, you need to understand the primary way members use that education.

For example: Healthcare and legal professions tend to need education to fulfill requirements and stay current on new developments. They’ve come to rely on researchers, pioneers and thought leaders to give them the information they need — thus they choose lecture styles. In contrast, some associations, such as the International Erosion Control Association (where I used to be education director), tend to focus on peers sharing information with one another — thus discussion and interaction lead to better educational sessions.

Then you have groups that come together for motivation, new ideas and career and self improvement, such as ASAE. Thus, the education there is a mix of thought leaders, peers and entertaining consultants. These sessions range from straight lecture to peer-to-peer education to game show-type sessions with props, laughs and giveaways.

In sum, the perfect educational program is always member driven.

Twitter: AvenueZ

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