IMEX America‘s latest Index of Optimism shows that many in the meetings and event industry are more upbeat about business today than they were a year ago.

The survey, taken in March, polled 400 North Americans — 70 percent buyers, 30 percent suppliers — to see how they felt about the industry’s prospects in the next few months. The results:

  • 67 percent are more optimistic now than last year at this time.
  • 58 percent expect to organize more meetings/events throughout 2013 and into the first quarter of 2014.
  • 49 percent have seen their budgets increase slightly from 2012.
  • 8 percent called their budget increases “significant.”

When asked what’s influencing buying decisions and meeting planning behavior, six factors were cited. They are, in descending order: pressures, needs and requests to cut costs; complying with new company meeting and expense reports; continued uncertainty about the global economy; a need to plan green meetings; concerns about being out of the office; and incorporating social media.

The survey also asked whether corporate social responsibility and green meetings practices are becoming more important. Those results:

  • 38 percent expected no change in their planning or practices, agreeing that “it already underpins everything we do.”
  • 22 percent know it’s important and are developing policies and guidelines.
  • 23 percent said they’re aware but don’t yet have programs in place.

IMEX America is America’s worldwide exhibition for incentive travel, meetings and events and the largest trade show for the industry in the United States. The third edition takes place Oct.15-17 at the Sands Expo, Las Vegas.