Meetings Market Survey reveals resilience and optimism for 2017

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PCMA (Professional Convention Management Association)’s magazine, Convene, has published its 26th annual Meetings Market Survey and the results show that the industry is in robust health: budgets for meetings and attendance at conference and exhibitions are both increased on 2015 and 28 per cent of industry professionals expect to plan more meetings during 2017.

Nearly 300 North American-based event professionals participated in the 2016 survey which took place in the months leading up to the U.S. Presidential Elections. It has become an important benchmark of how the industry is feeling and behaving and allows commentators to draw their own opinions on how much economic, political and technological conditions are affecting and shaping the meetings and events industry.

The topline results of the summary (in brief, below) reveal a cautiously optimistic mood. The key metrics of budget, attendance and exhibitions space are all increasing but at a slower rate than in 2015. Even better, 91 per cent of respondents expect their budgets to either increase or stay the same during 2017 with only nine per cent expecting a decrease. Twenty-five per cent of organisations revealed they were earning $1 million or more from their events and exhibitions.

Despite the profitability of the sector respondents did report that, on average, food and beverage remains their single-largest expense and account for 31 per cent of their costs at their 2016 event. As a result, 63 per cent were asked to cut food and beverage costs, 34 per cent were asked to cut audio visual expenses and 29 per cent wanted to reduce shuttle service costs.

Looking at the where event attendees came from, results were quite static with only one per cent more respondents than last year saying that they expected the number of international attendees to rise and 79 per cent expected no change.

Topline results, 2016 Convene Annual Meetings Market Survey:

  • 2016 Meeting budgets are up by 1.7 per cent compared with 2015
  • Number of 2016 exhibitors up by 4.6 per cent compared by 2.7 per cent
  • The estimated economic value of their largest meeting in 2016 to the host destination ranged from over $10 million (14 per cent of respondents) to less than $1 million (39 per cent). Corporate meetings were worth the most to host destinations – an average of $8.5 million
  • Total exhibition space rose by six per cent to approximately 125,200 net square feet vs 118,100 net square feet in 2015
  • During 2017, 49 per cent of all respondents will expect attendance at all meetings, exhibitions and conferences to rise
  • More than two thirds (69 per cent) expect the number of 2017 exhibitors to remain the same
  • 28 per cent expect to plan more meetings in 2017; only three per cent expect to plan fewer meetings
  • Greater forethought — The average booking window for large meetings is 2.5 years, slightly more than in the 2015 survey; for small meetings, it’s 11 months, compared to 10 months in the 2015 survey
  • Technology trumps rentals — Respondents to this year’s survey were most likely to outsource app development and deployment (60 per cent), event-supply rentals (58 per cent), and housing (49 per cent).

Michelle Russell, Editor in Chief, Convene said: “For this survey we decided to go back over the past 10 years in key areas to see how the meetings industry has fared, pre- and post-recession. In some areas, such as room blocks, we could clearly see how event professionals have adapted to changing attendee behaviour over the past decade. Yet it was surprising to see that many of the industry’s benchmarking metrics have remained fairly consistent over the past decade. We see this as proof of the industry’s resilience.”

The complete survey results can be found here.

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