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April 16, 2008
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HBI report plots meetings trends for 2008




The second annual Meetings Industry Report has been published by meetings management specialists Hotel Bookers International (HBI). The new edition follows the excellent reception given to 2007’s first edition, which won gold in the Meetings Industry Marketing Awards.

The 200-page publication contains a wealth of benchmarking data and best practice for procurement and event managers. Each of the 16 chapters in the report covers a major meetings procurement issue, including new or refurbished venues opening this year, sustainability, calculating return on investment from meetings and a look at what the buyer of the future will demand from venue operators.

Among the new features in the second edition is an Industry Benchmark section covering venue usage and corporate processes in the UK, Europe and globally. A best practice section includes advice for the procurement executive new to meetings, and a global calendar of events.

“Despite being worth £22 billion to the UK economy, the meetings industry historically lagged behind air travel and hospitality (hotels) in terms of the market intelligence available to buyers and planners,” said HBI managing director Des Mclaughlin. “There is actually a lot of information out there, and our report combines this data with the experiences of both corporate buyers and venue operators, bringing it all together in one place.”

Some of the report’s key findings, include: 67% of UK office workers attend at least one off-site meeting each week; just 20% of the UK’s meeting venues are bookable online; and despite a fall in the number of corporate meetings and conferences, over 35,000 new meeting rooms will open across the UK during 2008 and 2009.

The report was compiled from a variety of sources, such as associations Meetings Industry Association, British Association of Conference Destinations and BDRC. To complement the statistics and trend data collated from these sources, HBI carried out detailed research among its blue chip clients, the key findings of which are detailed below:

Health & Safety
Health & safety legislation, coupled with pressure to use internal meetings space are the biggest corporate challenges facing organisations that purchase meeting space in 2008. However, 88% of meeting buyers and planners within those companies cite a buoyant market driving up venue rates as their biggest professional challenge. Budget constraints are affecting 76% and increasingly complex venue contacts were highlighted by a similar proportion of those surveyed.

CSR
Despite growing fears of a recession, increased pressure to reduce carbon footprint and the new corporate manslaughter act, the number of meetings held by companies in 2008 is set to rise. Some 44% of clients surveyed by HBI declared they would hold more meetings, 31% predict an increase in the number of people attending those meetings and 30% have increased their meeting budgets over 2007.

Specialist meetings venues
Although the majority of meetings in the UK take place in conventional hotels, specialist conference and training centres are proving increasingly popular. In fact, 21% of clients surveyed by HBI say they will use this type of venue more in 2008.

One-day meetings
Despite increased use of video conferencing and corporate pressure to reduce the number of meetings, the popularity of the one-day, face-to-face meeting is undimmed. Just under half of the clients surveyed say that the majority of their meetings are for one day, with a further 37% lasting two to three days. According to the Meeting Industry Association’s 2007 survey, the average meeting now lasts 1.7 days.

Online bookings
Lack of standardisation is a key factor in the slow adoption of the booking of meetings space online. However, clients are starting to use the internet to book meetings for up to 12 to 16 delegates. In the UK, less than 10% of the available meetings space is bookable online, however, 26% of HBI clients now “always”, with a further 43% “sometimes” use online booking systems for small meetings.

ROO v ROI
Return on Investment (ROI) is being overshadowed by Return on Objectives (ROO) as the preferred choice of UK meeting planners for assessing the success of their events. Fewer than 10% of clients surveyed by HBI routinely quantify the ROI, whereas almost a third apply a more qualitative process to benchmark the results of the event against the business objectives behind the decision to stage it.

Overseas events on the rise
A third of UK companies are looking to increase the number of events they stage outside the UK this year. Some 78% of companies surveyed by HBI will stage up to 10 meetings overseas in 2008, with Amsterdam, Barcelona and Paris being the most popular destinations among HBI clients.

For a full copy of the report visit www.hbi.uk.com/meetingsreport.html


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