MPI Data: 2013 Meeting Industry Outlook Cautiously Optimistic

Meet Professionals International [MPI], a membership organization serving the global meeting and events industry, is forecasting positive increases in attendance and budgets for 2013.

According to MPI’s October 2012 Business Barometer report, which surveyed a select group of senior-level meeting professionals from MPI’s 21,000 international members, about 40 percent of respondents forecast positive budget changes. Of this group, 28 percent anticipate an increase in budgets by 1 to 5 percent, with 8 percent projecting an increase of 6 to 10 percent.

The number of those that believe budgets will remain flat increased by 1 percent to 47 percent.  This budgetary holding pattern isn’t all bad, claims MPI.

“Budgets have seen slight growth for the past 18 months in the private sector, which includes corporations and associations,” the report says. “Some meeting professionals report that their declining—or sometimes increasing—budgets are being replaced with flat ones. This move toward the center indicates a greater consistency and stability in the overall marketplace.”

In addition to budgets, the data also reveals that 66 percent of meeting professionals report increasingly favorable business conditions and 68 percent see those conditions improving in the coming year.

Though budgets and business conditions are improving, respondents stopped short of claiming all segments as positive climates, mainly for employment. Almost half of all respondents—46 percent—said that in 2012 full-time employment remained flat. About 59 percent of respondents said part-time employment remained flat, and 52 percent said that contracted employment was also flat this year.

“Meeting planners are understaffed, leading them to be very late in planning events,” one respondent said. “Aside from short-term bookings, it’s been harder to get information from planners in a timely manner because they’re working multiple events.”

Between 2011 and 2012, MPI respondents saw a drop in positive attendance figures, going from 44 percent in 2011 to 40 percent in 2012. For 2013, however, numbers are trending upward and appear to be the highest since at least 2009.

Over the next year 50 percent of meeting professionals expect greater attendance while 35 percent project flat attendance rates.

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