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Globally, the prevailing mood of the meetings and events industry in 2011 has been characterised by cautious optimism, as clients’ use of their strong corporate profits has in part translated into greater investment in business events overall.

One international survey demonstrating the upbeat mood of our industry in early 2011 was the Meeting Professionals International FutureWatch report, which included insights from more than 450 meetings industry professionals in 20 different countries. It showed that:

* 58 percent of respondents say the number of meetings will increase this year, while 37 percent say it will stay the same, and only 5 percent say it will decrease

* 18 percent expect a significant increase in budget this year, 39 percent foresee a slight increase and 24 percent sense that budgets will remain the same

* 25 percent say that demonstrating ROI from meetings, events and incentives in detail— and in a way that management fully understands—is either their most or their second most important priority.

Corporate meetings

Advito is one of several sources reporting that 2011 was set to be a year of healthy recovery for corporate travel in general, including meetings, with renewed enthusiasm for travel, especially to and from the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) and the other developing markets currently driving global growth. Support for this view came from the Global Business Travel Association’s Business Travel Index (BTI), which stood at 112 for the first quarter of 2011, and reached 114 in the second quarter – compared with 108 in the second quarter of 2010. In fact, while the economy slowed in the first quarter of 2011, the BTI was expected to reach its pre-­‐recession peak of 120 a quarter sooner than expected – in the second quarter of 2012. Part of this increase was expected to be driven by a higher projection for travel price increases, which would push spending higher over the forecast period.

However, opinion is divided on how close attendee numbers are to their peak levels as seen in 2008. While the Advito study claims that booking numbers almost returning to 2008 levels, an ACTE/Accor White Paper notes that although the overall number of meetings has returned, the average number of delegates per event has not reached the levels achieved before the global financial crisis. According to the White Paper, this has less to do with the health of the market than it does with the structure of companies after the crisis:

‘Most companies are simply not the same size with the same number of employees, with the result that the average size of meeting is lower than it was in 2008’.

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