Navigating the ‘New Economy’

The “New Economy” has become the buzzword of the media and conventions and events industry as a whole. But the word on the street is, “What does ‘new’ mean? Where are we going? Have we recovered, and what does the future look like?”

What we do know is that there is a lingering atmosphere of caution and trepidation as we carefully venture forward.

Across the $250 billion U.S. meetings and events industry, management teams are diligently working to interpret the economic landscape, study trends and employ plans to navigate ahead.  Positive trends and some clarity are emerging.

Recent studies from Benchmark Hospitality (source: ConWorld.net) offer some great insight into emerging 2012 meeting and event trends including:

  • *  Luxury travel is “cautiously” coming back.
  • *  At last, meeting demand is growing again to 2008 pre-recession levels.
  • *  Meeting size is trending up, and space availability is at a premium.
  • *  21st century meeting space and technologies are more creative & inspirational.
  • *  The “all-inclusive”  meeting package is coming back strongly.
  • *  Meeting pricing is carefully trending up.
  • *  Team-building budgets are continuing a comeback.
  • *  The meeting destination is as important as the meeting venue.

The best news of all and prevailing trend is as the economy strengthens, corporate America is once again investing in training and motivation. Corporate America’s spirit is back, and they’re dead serious!

With the above in mind, measuring and capturing ROI (return-on-investment) and packaging events to demonstrate their most positive impact is paramount. Building stakeholder value through securing agreements among presenters, attendees, channel partners, sponsors and executive teams on meeting goals, objectives and takeaway is critical.

Transparency is tantamount, especially in publically traded organizations where protecting perception from public scrutiny to avoid a potential public or investor relations debacle.

Global SMMP

Global SMMP (Strategic Meeting Management Program) is becoming more widely employed among organizations and their teams to insure that procurement, contracting, event operations and financial auditing are properly executed.  A well-structured SMMP builds consistency of event processes, mitigates risk and employs best-industry practices to provide negotiation consistency and purchasing power.  Such a program frequently complements an established corporate travel policy.

The role of technology is changing the landscape of the meeting industry.  Procurement technologies, virtual spaces, multimedia attendee engagement, audience acquisition and overall event communications strategies are rampant. As the use of technology expands, “finding the right balance between technology and access for younger vs. older event or meeting participants” becomes crucial. (source: IMEX/ConWorld)
Cause marketing and the spirit of volunteerism are prevalent.

Whereas attendee recreation and downtime are important, organizations realize that “giving back,” recycling the tons of materials that are used during a show or using recycled paper and plastic, even volunteering during their meetings and events—is an excellent way not only to deliver social responsible to an event community, but also, strengthen relationships among conferees.

Executing the perfect event in today’s ever-changing climate is a challenge! However, investing in training and incentivizing teams, clients and individuals leads to retention—retention of internal and external customers, business, sales and service standards and most importantly…morale.

Numerous studies have shown that carefully planned and well-crafted group events and individual incentives lead to a better bottom line, a more focused sales and service strategy, a rise in performance levels, outstanding networking opportunities and loyalty.
The bottom line: Hope is not a strategy. Standing by idly and hoping for things to continue to improve, is not the way forward.  Moving ahead and rewarding those who help you move forward yields greater rewards!

Chart your success!

Doug Wheeler is co-principal and co-owner of Summit Performance Group. SummitPG is a leading provider of meeting & event logistics, site selection, individual & group incentive travel, national & international sports hospitality, merchandise, fan-affinity programs & event registration. Reach Doug at dwheeler@summitpg.com.