Meetings

MPI Forecast Puts Government Events in Steep Decline

By / Mar 13, 2015 (iStock/Thinkstock)

A new quarterly report from Meeting Professionals International finds that many meeting planners expect government meetings, which have been dogged by spending scandals, to stay in decline in the near future.

The good news is that corporate and association meetings are looking really strong.

The bad? Well … event planners say that government meetings—which have been in the hot seat for close to three years, starting with a controversial General Services Administration meeting and then going on from there—appear to have a downward slope at the moment.

That’s based on the Winter 2015 Meetings Outlook report [PDF], put together by Meeting Professionals International and developed in partnership with Visit Denver.

The report, based on surveys done in November 2014, states that 49 percent of respondents expected a decline in government meetings—a drop in fortunes from 43 percent last August and 31 percent last May. However, corporate meetings are more than making up for this decline—41 percent of respondents reported an uptick in domestic corporate meetings, according to the November forecast, and 11 percent saw an uptick in international corporate meetings over the same period.

Association meetings—some of which rely on federal attendees to some degree—straddle the middle, according to the forecast. The report found a 3 percent uptick for domestic association meetings in November (a drop from a 12 percent increase in August, but topping a 4 percent decline in May), while international association meetings continued to struggle. The report projected a 3 percent decrease in international association events in November, an improvement from a 11 percent decline seen in August.

As MeetingsNet recently reported, one trade group focused on the issue, the Society of Government Meeting Professionals, has worked to keep its voice in the conversation, sending a letter to The Washington Post in response to recent coverage about how a decline in travel spending is hurting federal employees.

“The resulting reality of the knee-jerk blanket restrictions in 2012 at first was agencies canceling education conferences at a cost that exceeded what the expense would have been to hold them,” SGMP Executive Director and CEO Rob Bergeron wrote in his letter to the newspaper [PDF]. “Government employees continue to be forced to spend more money for mission-critical training by attending multiple smaller conferences instead of by simply attending one conference at a significantly lower cost.”

Nonetheless, the federal travel-spending issue appears to be turning a corner. In January, the Office of Management & Budget announced it was giving more flexibility to federal agencies in “mission critical” cases.

Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. More »

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