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Slowdown Ahead for Meetings?

Rayna Katz

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In its Fall 2019 Meetings Outlook report, which is prepared via a survey, Meeting Professionals International (MPI) found a duo of troubling signs ahead for economic conditions and their impact on the industry.

First, the research indicated that a sense of economic and political instability (held by 64% and 53% of survey respondents, respectively) were affecting business decisions in the meetings industry and prompting signs of slowing growth for the business meeting and event landscape.

Second, while a seemingly healthy amount of industry professionals (45%) predict favorable business conditions during the next year, that is the weakest result on this metric in more than three years.

Planners see the writing on the wall. “Without a doubt, recent political, cultural, and environmental situations have put businesses more on edge,” says Sarah Buchbinder, group broker, Meetings Made Easy. “People become more cautious to take risks when faced with this type of uncertainty.

Adds John Nawn, founder/CEO, The Perfect Meeting, “Practically every economist in the world today is saying we’re headed for an economic downturn, and I know they’re right, so I’m expecting a slowdown. It will impact our industry and planners that aren’t taking proactive measures today will pay tomorrow.”

“The norm seems to be that inflation is outpacing budget increases,” notes Christy Lamagna, president, Strategic Meetings & Events. “Until companies and the people who run them can crystallize their understanding that meetings, when produced strategically, are the most effective sales tool at their disposal, this trend will continue. If we don’t evolve, the industry will continue to be degraded, one budget cut and unqualified person handling planning at a time.”

Still, Buchbinder is confident that the importance of the industry will remain steadfast. “The need for and the benefits of face-to-face meetings aren’t going anywhere, and the industry will continue to survive and thrive.”

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