Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

May 06 2013

The Meetings Industry Is (Kind of) Looking Up

By David McMillin, Staff Writer

The verdict is in: meeting professionals on both sides of the table believe the future looks bright.

In a survey conducted by IMEX America of more than 400 North American buyers and suppliers, 67 percent of respondents indicated that they feel more optimistic than they did at this time in 2012.

“These results tell an interesting story; one that is borne out by experience and the feedback we hear from the market every day,” Ray Bloom, IMEX Chairman, said in a statement. “And that is that business fundamentals in North America are strong, and gradually getting stronger, and that the overall trend is upwards, albeit gently.”

SEE ALSO: Convene’s 22nd Annual Meetings Market Survey

The Recession Carryover

However, it’s clear that the future isn’t all rose-colored. While respondents seemed to hold hope for the future, the survey also revealed that meeting professionals continue to look even closer at their bottom lines. Here’s a look at the three most important factors in buying decisions:

1)  Pressures, needs and requests to reduce costs

2)  Complying with new company meeting and expenses policies

3)  Continued uncertainty about the global economic outlook

These factors are crucial pieces to remember. When the recession hit, many organizations cut back, and they’re bringing that mindset with them into the future - - even as corporate profits increase and many financial analysts celebrate rising stock values on Wall Street.

"Throughout my discussions over the past two years, one theme has been consistent: cost-cutting,” Carolyn Clark, vice president, marketing and communications, PCMA, says. "As they peel back the curtains from the belt-tightening challenges of the recession, they're keeping many of the same policies in place and hoping to do more with less."

The Sequestration Suck

While associations and corporations may be focused on sweetening their bottom lines, there’s no entity trying to save more money right now than the US government. Federal agencies have been forced to trim their budgets, and sequestration cuts have led to smaller attendance numbers from government workers and unfilled room blocks. In some cases, meetings have been cancelled altogether.

SEE ALSO: Federal Budget Cuts Cancel More Meetings

The US government isn’t alone, though. As unrest in the Middle East continues to worry economic experts and the Eurozone debt crisis continues, it’s no wonder why meeting professionals remain cautiously optimistic about opportunities around the world.

SEE ALSO: Understanding the Global Market

How do you feel about the outlook for your business? Is your organization working to maintain its recession-approach to cost control even now that the economy is looking up? Have you seen a direct link between sequestration cuts and your meeting’s attendance?

Go to Catalyst to join your colleagues in a discussion about what the future holds for the bottom line of your meetings and events.

For a full look at the results of the survey from IMEX America, click here

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