Despite continued global economic struggles, international meetings industry leaders predicted strong growth as the calendar turns.
Attendees at IMEX Association Day in Frankfurt said they expect “significantly stronger future growth” for association meetings next year, according to a survey conducted by IMEX and the International Congress and Convention Association.
More than 77 percent of the 92 international association hosted buyers who responded to the survey said they have or will be organizing meetings for more than 500 delegates in 2013, with 17 percent organizing events for groups of more than 5,000—slight increases over 2012 numbers.
“Even through the economic turbulence of the past few years, the sector has remained resilient and cautiously optimistic,” IMEX CEO Carina Bauer, said in a statement. “It is good to see the sector continuing this upward trajectory and beginning to display a slightly stronger confidence level. For our exhibitors and for the meetings industry as a whole, this is great news.”
The survey also saw gains in attendance figures and future projections: More than 32 percent reported higher attendance at 2013 events, 4 percent higher than 2012, while 24 percent reported slight reductions in numbers compared to 31 percent in 2012. And almost 30 percent of associations said they would be running more meetings in 2014 than this year, while just 22 percent said the same thing last year.
“It’s great news to see that the sector has regained its optimism, and we anticipate that associations will become increasingly important in every destination’s meetings mix,” ICCA CEO Martin Sirk said in the statement. He noted, however, that the “volatile financial and economic environment of the last five years has had an impact on delegate numbers and sponsorship support for many association events.”
Sirk’s comments were reflected in the survey. When asked if the global economy took a toll on their association and its events, 57 percent responded “yes.” On a positive note, that was down from 60 percent in 2012.
This survey is just the latest good news for an industry that has been hampered by sequestration and scrutiny over government spending. IMEX America reported earlier this year on the rise in optimism in the meetings industry, and the Global Business Travel Association recently predicted a healthy jump in business travel spending for 2013.
What does your association’s meetings outlook look like for 2014? Share your story in the comments.