Behind the Scenes: Annual Review

How the meetings industry performed over the last decade.

Author: Michelle Russell       

Michelle Russell

Getting and giving annual performance reviews doesn’t top my “Things I’m Most Comfortable Doing” list. According to a recent survey of 1,500 U.S. office workers commissioned by Adobe, I’m in good company. Nearly two-thirds of office workers and managers agree that performance reviews are outdated, and more than half feel they have no impact on how they do their job.

Luckily, that’s not the case with our annual performance review for the industry — Convene’s Meetings Market Survey, published in the March issue for more than two decades. How do we know that? Each fall, hundreds of event professionals take the time to fill out our in-depth survey. A way to take the industry’s temperature, it remains one of our most-read articles every year.

This year, we reached further back into the archives to check the industry’s performance over the past decade — pre- and post-recession. And if we were to give our industry a traditional performance-review score for certain qualities like stability and persistence, on a scale of 1 (needs work) to 5 (exceeds expectations), it would get a 4.

That’s because while the U.S. meetings industry has weathered extreme economic conditions well, we haven’t made much progress on the international front. We’ve stayed small and flat in terms of attracting international attendees to our largest events: 7 percent of registrants in 2007, and 7 percent again in 2016. As far as venturing beyond our borders, 43 percent told us in 2007 they would be holding future meetings outside of the United States, and 43 percent said the same last year.

More than half of our respondents said it was more difficult for prospective attendees to obtain visas to attend their events last year than the year before, so that helps explain such lackluster results. And news on that front isn’t promising. Ironically, a press release from the U.S. Travel Association that international travel to the United States had finally returned to pre-9/11 levels was issued during the same week that President Trump issued an executive order to deny citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries entry to the United States for 90 days.

As we went to press, the order had been blocked by a federal judge in a ruling that was upheld by a federal appeals court. Should the ban be reenacted, the repercussions for meetings held in the United States that benefit from a global perspective — in sectors such as scientific, medical, tech, and business, to name a few — could be severe. As Optical Society President Eric Mazur, Ph.D., tells Executive Editor Christopher Durso: “Science requires collaboration across borders and the free exchange of information. You shut the door to any particular group of people, and the world may look very different 40 years later.”



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