Low budget levels continue to be the No. 1 meeting trend, but the economy and business conditions are gradually improving, say meeting professionals in MPI Foundation’s December 2009 Business Barometer report. Predictions of a poor economy have dropped from 10 percent in the October report to one percent in December, and concern over the perception and media coverage of meetings has fallen to five percent from the more than 12 percent rank it held for nearly a year.
According to the study, planners are looking to spend less money on frills such as parties, outings and excessive food and beverage. And lead times continue to get shorter. “Companies are waiting for fourth quarter earnings to finalize contracts,” explained one respondent.
For the first time since August 2008, the study shows an increase in the number of meetings being held. Although that percentage is small (five percent), recent Business Barometers have shown a growing trend of economic optimism throughout the industry. More and more respondents say that there is an increase in favorable business conditions (30 percent in December 2009 versus 13 percent in June 2009) and that business will improve (44 percent in December versus 19 percent in June). As one survey participant noted, “People are starting to see that spending monies on meetings is more beneficial than other areas of marketing.”
- Compared to a year ago, respondent’s client segments showing the greatest increase in activity are domestic corporate (29 percent), domestic association (26 percent) and government group business (19 percent).
- Forty-five percent of the meeting professionals surveyed reported a decrease in meeting and event spend over the past year; 22 percent said their budgets remained flat.
- Sixty-six percent reported seeing a decrease in meeting attendance since this time last year; 18 percent saw no overall change.
- The top nine meeting trends cited by respondents were: low budgets/cuts (12 percent), economic uncertainty (nine percent), optimism regarding the future economy (six percent), shorter lead times (six percent), indecision (five percent), poor perception/coverage of meetings (five percent), lower attendance (four percent), more Web/virtual meetings (four percent) and proving ROI and the value of meetings (four percent).