According the the IMEX Group, business is going to be up this year, even if resources remain tight. The organization, which produces the IMEX America and IMEX Frankfurt trade shows, released six predictions for the 2012 global meeting industry, based on post-show feedback from its inaugural American event, held last fall.
- Business is looking up and globalization is increasing, but meetings are smaller and short term. Meeting planners surveyed said that business had picked up by a conservative amount over the previous 12 months. Although optimistic about 2012 growth, planners reported that their meetings will be smaller and shorter, and put together with a tighter booking window. In the search for bargains, event organizers are looking at new or emerging global destinations that offer exceptional value.
- Doing more with less is the “new norm.” Budgets and timelines aren’t increasing, but demand is. As a result, meeting industry suppliers are offering more value-adds like free WiFi, green meeting consultation and other educational services. Everyone is doing more work in less time with fewer staff members; that is not something IMEX sees easing this year.
- Corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives and green meetings will become easier to organize and measure. As streamlined green practices, benchmarks, standards, education and certifications become more accessible to planners, expect to see more companies, networks and alliances emerge that make it easier for organizations to achieve green or CSR goals.
- Social media will continue to drive business. Half of IMEX America’s meeting planners said they’d increased their use of social media in the past six months. Nearly 88 percent said they use LinkedIn for business; 70.8 percent use Facebook; 50 percent are on Twitter and 22.4 percent use YouTube. Nearly half (42.5 percent) said that using social media helps generate business.
- Event organizers need to capture and leverage educational content. Especially among associations, on-demand educational content is being used to extend the reach and benefit to attendees and members. In addition to broadcasting and archiving education online, planners need to consider mobile viewers and engage audience through social media. The IMEX Group predicted an increase of gaming technology at events to make education more entertaining and interactive.
- Quantifying the value of meetings market impact is crucial. At IMEX America, Mexico announced the results of its economic impact study. Since 2009, the United States and Canada have conducted similar studies measuring the impact of the meetings industry. IMEX Group predicts many other countries will follow suit, which will allow industry advocates to have greater political clout.
Editor’s note: Plan Your Meetings is a media partner of IMEX America and IMEX Frankfurt.