However, while hotel capacity in many key areas worldwide is expected to increase, planners can anticipate that the seller's market will continue for the near future, especially in North America. While it varies from region to region, suppliers are also predicting an average group rate increase of 2.9 percent. Air rates also are expected to increase 2 percent next year, though airlines reported that they are planning to add new routes and more capacity. Twenty-eight percent of planners said they are beginning to do more to incorporate group air into their planning processes, negotiating with airlines for flat rates for their attendees, for example, to balance the cost increases. With average worldwide lead times shrinking to just four weeks, the further ahead planners can get their requests for proposals in, the better their chances for getting the dates, rates, and space they want. And, although planners may have a bit more coin in their coffers, the survey also found the cost per attendee is rising as well. "They want to invest that extra in their budget wisely," said Harris. Get the full story at and American Express