Optimism in the meetings and events industry is on the rise, according the latest IMEX America Index of Optimism.
The index, conducted in the first quarter of 2012, asked 200 buyers and suppliers in North America to describe their mood during the previous six months, covering such topics as new business, technology use, professional development and what impact the outcome of the upcoming presidential election will have on the industry. Of those participating, 64 percent were buyers, the rest were suppliers. Some of the index’s key findings:
- 88 percent had attracted new business in the previous six months (compared with 77 percent in the previous index).
- 79 percent felt more optimistic, a 13 percent increase over the previous index.
- 53 percent saw an increase in the number of large meetings and events in the past six months (compared with 50 percent in the previous index).
When asked the “crystal ball” question — whether the industry had seen the worst of market difficulties — 49 percent said yes, 31 percent said no and 20 percent couldn’t decide either way. In the previous index, only 30 percent felt the worst had passed.
The index also sought feedback on the importance of continued professional development and industry recognition (81 percent calling it critical), hot technologies and the presidential election’s potential effect on the industry.
Twitter, Facebook, smartphones, tablets and apps continue to dominate industry professionals’ lives and habits, but respondents emphasized that they seek value rather than novelty. They want technologies that help them create better marketing programs and sponsorships, build stronger client relationships and deliver a richer attendee interaction or greater convenience. They also want greater network bandwidth in venues, more extensive Wi-Fi availability, and more and better mobile apps to facilitate information access and interaction.
Interest in cloud-based CRM and database solutions is high, and there seems to be a lot of discussion around virtual and video conference formats and technologies — especially for smaller audiences. Those surveyed also spoke strongly, however, of the value of face-to-face connections, networking and relationship development that comes at live events.
Concerns about rising fuel prices, job creation and global economic instability mattered more to respondents than the outcome of the U.S. presidential election. Many commented that no matter who wins, it’s essential to keep pushing for more understanding and pro-industry action on Capitol Hill.
IMEX America, which debuted last year, is the U.S.-based trade show for the worldwide meetings, events and incentive travel industry. The next edition takes place Oct. 9-11 at the Sands Expo, Las Vegas.