The 23rd Global Meetings and Events Exhibition (EITBM) closed in Barcelona yesterday, releasing the full results of the annual EIBTM Global Industry Trends and Market Share Report.
The report compiled by Rob Davidson, EIBTM Industry Analyst and Senior Lecturer in Events Management at The University of Greenwich in London, identifies key trends for the meetings and incentives market, which delivered insight into the global economic situation we find ourselves in, and how the meetings and events industry are responding.
“Without doubt, the economy and how we deal with uncertainty in world markets is the biggest issue facing our industry at this time. Only economic growth can reverse the weakening in the global recovery, and as an industry it is imperative that we now demonstrate that we can be part of the solution, rather than a cost to businesses.”
Davidson said, however, that the difficult economic background had taught the industry to operate effectively within volatile markets by using innovative solutions and by cooperating to a greater extent than ever before. “There can be no doubt that this spirit of cooperation and collaboration has already created stronger intra-industry relationships that will last for years to come,” Davidson said.
Davidson believed his survey showed a greater degree of optimism from the meetings industry than in the global economy as a whole. Most analysts were predicting that corporate meetings demand would continue to grow worldwide, he noted, approaching peak 2008 levels by year-end 2012. Venue rates, he said, would rise faster in 2012 than in 2011.
Davidson expected the price differential between second- and third-tier cities compared with top-tier destinations (generally, capital cities) to widen, offering more opportunities for these destinations in the international meetings market.
The outlook for the association market was rosier than for the corporate market according to the survey which claimed associations’ revenue from exhibitions that accompany conferences remained stable and that levels of sponsorship are expected to increase in the year ahead.
Davidson contrasted slow or neglible growth in many advanced Western economies and problems in the eurozone, with BRIC powerhouse economies, and in the forefront China, that were driving growth, including in the meetings industry. The BRIC to watch closely was Brazil, said Davidson. “That populous nation is set to overtake the UK to become the world’s sixth biggest economy this year, according to projections from the Economist Intelligence Unit.”
Davidson predicts that there will be rapid growth in the volume of meetings held between Chinese companies and the companies in regions such as Africa and Brazil that are supplying it with the commodities it needs.
“Meeting professionals have begun to recognise that it has become much easier to extend the impact of an event beyond the four walls of the meeting room,” said Davidson, “and that hybrid events can multiply an event’s impact and can even attract new attendees for future events. In the words of the 2011.”
Davidson, however, noted that global trends in the first half of 2011 were markedly more optimistic than those in the second part of the year. “Something happened during the summer, the picture changed. There was a loss of momentum leading to a year of two halves.”
Davidson picked out the pharm sector as a ray of optimism for driving more meetings. “There is increasing global demand to fulfil the health needs of an ageing population and an increase in cheaper, generic drugs,” said Davidson. This meant more meetings were likely. Automotive was another sector identified for big growth in China and India, and likely again to lead to more meetings demand.
One area for gloom, however, was the incentives market, where ostentatious spending, in particular, appears to have been reined back sharply. Davidson gave the example of Australia where international business events and spending on them had risen significantly, yet spending had dropped 19 per cent in the incentives sub-sector. Davidson’s advice was where business is slack “use the opportunity to hone the skills of your staff”.