There's no question that strategic meeting management is no longer just the purview of a handful of Fortune 500 companies with large, centralized meeting departments. In Meeting Professionals International's 2007 Futurewatch survey, presented at its Professional Education Conference in New Orleans last week, more than half of respondents reported that they have a program in place to calculate their total meeting spend. And of those that don't, half said they plan to put one in place in 2007.

The other shift in practice from cutting-edge to commonplace had to do with working with procurement: 64 percent of survey respondents said their purchasing departments are involved in hotel decisions to some extent, and 27 percent expect them to become even more involved in 2007. The good news is that the frustration that many meeting planners initially felt in dealing with procurement seems to have lessened. In fact, only 15 percent of respondents now view procurement as an obstacle and 23 percent expect them to continue to become more knowledgeable about meetings and more helpful in the future.

Other highlights from the annual survey of 1,443 meeting professionals, now in its fifth year:

  • Corporate planners expect the number of meetings they hold to grow by 7 percent in 2007 and their spend per meeting to grow by 4 percent.

  • 73 percent of respondents expect hotel rates to rise in 2007.

  • 71 percent of corporate planners organize meetings for offices in more than one country, and the globalization of the industry will continue to increase at a rapid pace, with a third of participants expecting their organization to be doing business in another country by the end of the year.

  • Of meetings that are outsourcerd, 69 percent are done so only on the logistics side; only 16 percent of respondents outsource the entire meeting planning function.

For more information on Futurewatch, visit