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Meeting professionals expect a stronger year ahead

Respondents to PCMA Convene’s 23rd Annual Meetings Market Survey reported continued improvement in key meeting metrics and higher expectations for 2014 — although challenges remain.
This month, PCMA Convene magazine published the results of its annual Meetings Market Survey, which has been considered an industry benchmark for the past 23 years.

While the survey in recent years has included questions about other forces impacting the industry (the use of social media and virtual events, for example), it has cast a spotlight on the key metrics of the industry’s health — attendance, budgets, exhibitors, revenues — consistently over the past two decades.

Of the 400-plus association, independent, and corporate planners who completed the latest survey in late 2013, 44 percent experienced an increase in attendance at their 2013 flagship event and 41 percent expected their attendance to grow in 2014. Thirty-three percent said they had more exhibitors at their main 2013 convention and nearly 30 percent expected exhibitor growth to continue this year. The average exhibition footprint, however, shrunk from 124,000 square feet in 2012 to 108,000 square feet in 2013.

While most survey respondents said leading meeting indicators were on the upswing, there were many who cited challenges negatively affecting particular sectors, including stricter guidelines for medical meetings and policies that cut into government-employee attendance — as well as rising hotel costs and airfares affecting all meetings. “On the whole, meeting professionals are optimistic about the year ahead,” said Convene Editor in Chief Michelle Russell, who has analyzed the results of the annual Meetings Market Survey for the past 11 years.

“Many of the respondents expect meetings to pick up slightly along with the slow growth of the overall economy. And despite the fact that meeting budgets with an exhibition component held steady over last year — and nearly one-third of respondents expected to have a larger budget to work with this year — the majority continue to be asked by management to trim meeting expenses. Doing more with less seems to be a given for many.”

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