Overseas meetings planned by U.S. organizations are back — way back. Of course, they never really went away, but I've sensed a tremendous resurgence this year, reflected in a number of indicators.

First and foremost is the growing globalization of business. Holding meetings or other events for multinational attendees outside of the United States is now critical to the success of many organizations. U.S. companies and associations have been the leaders in using meetings and events as a strategic tool for U.S. employees and members, and they now need to duplicate that success overseas, not only to maintain viability but to grow.

Backing that up is our first-ever international trends survey of our U.S.-based readers, conducted in March. (See page 8.) Respondents represented the market segments of our five Meetings Group magazines (Corporate Meetings & Incentives, Association Meetings, Medical Meetings, Financial & Insurance Meetings, and Religious Conference Manager). We were therefore able to identify that medical meetings with multinational attendees are the largest events being taken overseas by U.S. organizations, for example, and that the average number of meetings being taken outside of the U.S. by each respondent will be 15.4 in 2007 compared to 9.1 in 2006.

Coupled with business demand is our desire — finally — to venture outside of our own borders again. According to Ray Bloom, chairman of IMEX, The Worldwide Exhibition for Incentive Travel, Meetings & Events, held each year in Germany, “Since 2001, Americans are slowly recovering their positive sentiments toward traveling internationally. During this period of insularity, a pent-up demand has been created. This is also very important if incentive travel programs are to continue to motivate.”

According to our survey, safety and security is of paramount concern when selecting an overseas meeting or incentive destination, with the cost of the destination following close behind. (See page 14.) The high cost of meeting in the U.S., attributable to the seller's market, and the leveling off of currency exchange rates in some European destinations have also contributed to the predilection of U.S. planners to meet offshore.

Finally, there are numerous signs that meeting pros are asking for education about planning meetings overseas, as well as about destinations. Witness the introduction of Meeting Professionals International's Culture Active Tool (see page 74 for a first-hand look at what a cool tool it is), and the incredible growth of the international trade show segment of our industry, particularly in Europe and Asia, which the International Association for Exposition Management (www.iaem.org) is fostering. IMEX 2006, held at the end of May, was the largest yet, having grown its exhibit space by 20 percent in the past year.

Where there's a knowledge gap, there are education and tools, and that's where Beyond Borders comes in. In addition to the wealth of new material you'll find in this issue, there are years' worth of articles archived from past editions at meetingsnet.com.

One final note: I'm thrilled to share with you that Virginia Lofft, who founded BB when she was vice president and publishing director for our magazine group in the 1990s, will be inducted into the Hall of Leaders — the Convention Industry Council's tribute to pioneers in the industry — this August during a gala ceremony in Boston.

Betsy Bair
Editorial Director
bbair@meetingsnet.com