It’s not surprising that nearly 65 percent of meeting planners say the economic downturn has had some kind of impact on their association. But according to the Association Meetings: Forecasts and Trends 2010 study, conducted by the International Congress and Convention Association and IMEX, more than half of those surveyed felt as if their third-quarter 2009 meetings would have the same or greater number of attendees than similar events held in 2008, and 39 percent expected attendance to rise in 2010 (44 percent expected attendance numbers to hold steady).
Seventy-two percent of respondents said they expected to hold the same number of meetings in 2010 as in 2009, and 16.2 percent said they would be planning more meetings next year. Almost half of respondents (48 percent) said they did not intend to reduce the number of large or smaller meetings organized in 2010. But 46 percent of association planners say they intend to select lower cost destinations/venues for their meetings; 52 percent intend to select lower cost delegate accommodations or lower priced hotels; and 36 percent intend to significantly cut down on costs at future meetings by such measures as cutting out banquets, receptions or reducing the number of days in the program.
Social responsibility and climate change continue to be big issues for association planners moving into 2010. Fifty-one percent say they already plan for groups to participate in socially responsible activities in the host community; and 25 percent say that the issues of climate change and carbon footprint have become more important in their meeting and destination choices. (61 percent say that it will be just as important next year as it was last year.)
The top concerns association planners have for the new year are (in order of importance): How to attract higher attendance; how to offer better value for money; how to devise conference programs that appeal to the broadest audiences; how to appeal to younger delegates; how to negotiate with airlines hotels and convention centers (tie); how to find new meetings destinations and venues (tie); how to find the right suppliers; how to respond to the multicultural preferences of delegates; and how to manage issues of security.