Sunday, August 1, 2010

Brighter Days Ahead?

After the trials and tribulations of the past few years, it’s nice to finally hear some encouraging news. The meetings industry appears to be on an upswing—a minor one, to be sure, but the momentum seems to building a bit.

A new survey commissioned by the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA), the PCMA Education Foundation and American Express queried 505 meeting planners throughout the U.S. about their intentions regarding off-site meetings for 2010 and 2011. Respondents indicated that they booked an increase of 15 percent more meetings in 2010 compared to 2009, and expect an increase of 24 percent more bookings for 2011 as compared to 2009.

Attendance forecasts are equally encouraging, with a net increase of 23 percent in 2010 and 38 percent increase compared to 2009.

Some more positive news: In 2009, 54 percent of the respondents postponed, canceled or re-booked meetings at a cost of $81,000 per planner. This year, only six percent plan to take these actions and expect to pay only $7,600 in cancellation fees in 2010 and $3,500 for meetings booked in 2011.

Venue selection is also affected by the economy over the next few years, with resorts and cruise ships on the decline (still those perception issues!) while hotels are forecast to begin recovery with an increase in bookings of 25 percent. Upscale and luxury properties are still being avoided.

So it seems that we should keep our seat belts fastened—the road is still going to be bumpy. But we may have seen the worst.

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