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Meeting, Events, & Travel Planning Guide

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Indicators point to an expected increase in business meetings, corporate events and company travel in 2012.

Is 2012 the year your company should step outside the office to hold that incentive sales meeting, new product presentation or employee appreciation event? After all, business owners and managers have long known that investing in timely, strategic and thoughtful mahalo activities for customers, business-to-business partners, members and employees can raise a company’s profile and standing, sharpen its competitive edge and ultimately enhance its revenue growth. A 2009 Oxford Economics study confirmed that face-to-face meetings allow companies to convert 40 percent of prospective customers, versus just 16 percent without such a meeting. But recent years of slow recovery from the recession have shrunk budgets and downplayed such activities for cost-conscious management.

Should local companies consider putting time and dollars to reach out to their current and potential stakeholders? American Express is forecasting an upswing worldwide in such activity this year. Based on a November 2011 survey and in-depth interviews with meeting experts, including planners, buyers and hotel suppliers based around the world, meeting demand appears to be on the rise globally. American Express Meetings & Events division concluded that the projected spending is an indicator of companies’ desire to connect with clients and prospects and that the meetings and events themselves were viewed as leading drivers of new business and growth for companies.

The Hawaii market for meetings and events reflects these national and global trends, according to local experts. Value is still a key factor for island companies for more affordable venues and activities. Customization is increasingly a selling point for off-site meetings and events, from site selection, menu offerings and tech capabilities to diverse choices in downtime amenities and leisure activities. In a related vein, distinctive venues are stepping up to accommodate business gatherings, encouraging company planners to think “out-of-the-box” to provide a unique and memorable experience for their companies to advance products, services and messages. Giving thanks to the company ohana, a time-honored employee tradition in Hawaii’s business community, has been focused primarily on raising employee morale in recent lean times. But as companies slowly resume hiring, team-building activities have inched their way to the forefront as a way to integrate new hires and to express gratitude to longtime and loyal employees during recent hard times.

So if your company is considering resuming or expanding off-site meetings and events this year, take a look at what industry experts are saying are the trends in the market and what plans they have for 2012.

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