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December 4, 2008

Study reveals key snapshot of meetings and conference industry

The Mood of the Market, a major European meetings industry report presented at EIBTM this week by Sally Greenhill, managing director of The Right Solution, reflected that, despite a challenging year, the meetings and conference industry remained optimistic and upbeat.
Some 25% of respondents were set to organise more international events, 9% more national events and 35% set to keep events about the same as last year.  In terms of the number of delegates attending events, the research showed that they had either remained the same or increased over 2007.
When it came to budgets a total of 60% of respondents anticipated they would either increase (20%) or remain the same (41%).
Major trends influencing venue selection saw 86% stating that corporate social responsibility (CSR) and environmental policies would be extremely or somewhat beneficial over the next 10 years, with nearly half – 46% – believing that their CSR policies impacted on all aspects of event organisation.
The top factor influencing venue selection saw location at the top followed by price/value for money, quality of service, access (road/rail links), capacity of conference facilities, quality of conference facilities, availability, previous experience of venue, quality of bedrooms and quality of food.
The research showed that respondents rated the content of an event and the cost of attending a meeting as less important than the appeal of the destination and the venue. These results may reflect the many different types of events that respondents were responsible for which include incentives. Celebrity speakers were considered far less important to delegates, perhaps down to the potential cost of employing them.
For organisers based in Europe, 98% had held events in the continent in the last year. Germany came top, followed by Spain, Italy and France. The UK came sixth just below North America, the most popular continent outside Europe, followed by Asia, Africa and, lagging well behind, Australia. Looking to the future, emerging meetings destinations such as the Philippines, Bulgaria and Trinidad and Tobago are now registering on organisers’ antennae.

Interestingly for destinations, on average 16% of delegates bring partners to meetings or conferences, and just over 10% of delegates extend their stay.
Commenting on the ‘Mood of the Market’ research Paul Kennedy, group exhibition director, meetings and incentives events at Reed Travel Exhibitions, said: “There is no doubt that 2009 will be a challenging year for everyone in the meetings industry. This report provides a realistic snapshot of how meetings and event organisers are feeling about the industry and the extent to which events and business levels may be affected in the future.
“The mood is one of optimism despite concerns. It will be vital for events to offer a valuable and worthwhile use of time for all those attending, which is also enjoyable and stimulating, yet perceived as neither extravagant nor too exclusive in its appeal. It will require careful consideration of all options for destinations, travel methods, venues, content and speakers to achieve an appropriate balance.”

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