By Meg Manazir
Nearly all of us have caught wind of the General Services Administration scandal. Right before that started to break, Forbes reported that luxury corporate trips are resuming following recent rebounds in the economy. Joseph Bates, senior direct of research at the Global Business Travel Association told Forbes, “Group travel spending went up nearly 8 percent in 2011 and is expected to continue to rise in 2012. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s back to the status quo – retreat trips are coming back smaller, shorter and with much fuller agendas than before.”
On the business front, we’re continuing to see a lot of the economic impacts in our media travel tendencies, particularly when it comes to larger tradeshows and conventions. Media outlets are sending fewer reporters and bloggers than before and the expectations are high. Not only are they being asked to take meetings, they are expected to get out on the show floor and attend networking events.
From a PR perspective, this presents ample opportunity. A full agenda is not always a smart agenda. At an event this past March, the PR and events team received very positive feedback for responsible scheduling practices. We deliberately scheduled consecutive meetings that took up no more than 2 hours per day of a journalist’s time, ensuring that they had the entire rest of the day to roam the exhibits, take meetings with customers and write stories. We also scheduled intimate dinners with executives, fostering deeper connections between a group of executives and like-minded media and organized two executive-hosted tours of the show floor. Knowing that media schedules were tight and expectations were high, we created multiple environments for media to get their news.
We expect to see these media attendance trends continue. A report published by the U.S. Travel Association and travel marketing agency MMGY claims that general business travel – trips for client meetings and the like – is recovering faster than travel for meetings and conventions. As tight travel budgets continue, we’ll be well-prepared to plan media meeting schedules as part of larger show plans.
While the GSA scandal won’t impact the larger trend of rebounding business travel, it will likely serve as a model of what not to do for quite some time. Tight travel budgets will continue and we’ll be well-prepared to plan media meeting schedules as part of larger show plans.