The IBTM’s global meetings industry research arm presented its first report on the Americas June 20 at AIBTM in Baltimore, with highlights showing that while the majority of U.S. business tends to stay in the U.S.—albeit spread throughout different states—over 40 percent of survey respondents organized events in Europe, 22 percent in Asia and the remainder of planner respondents took business to the regions of MENA, the Gulf, Africa and Australasia.
Some 327 respondents in the Americas organized over 6,660 events, from conferences to exhibitions, incentives, business travel and product launches. The most popular destinations in Europe were Spain, Italy, Germany and the U.K., while in the Americas preferred destinations included the U.S., Mexico, Brazil and Argentina.
Over the next 12 months, the top 10 countries for Americas buyers will be France, Spain, Canada, Mexico, China, the U.K., Italy, Germany, Brazil and, of course, the U.S.
Over half of respondents indicated that their volume of events is predicted to grow over the next 12 months, and budgets remain under pressure as planners are expected to do more for less. Still, monies are being made available for events; the mean budget per event in the U.S. is $95,098, and 80 percent of buyers in the Americas had a budget in excess of $100,000.
When asked what would have the biggest impact on increasing meeting and event business, the report said respondents made some of the following observations: changing the way event professionals are viewed in the U.S.; abandoning terms like ‘event planner’; requiring more high-level conversations between planners and the organizations they plan for; and improving ethics.
When asked what issues could prompt a spike in meeting and event business, planners cited the following: the economy, budgets improving, costs/prices/rates/value and new destinations.
In terms of the value of oversees destinations, Brazil took the top spot with a mean value of $73,352; Canada was next at a mean value of $75,943; Argentina came in at $60,714, and Mexico took the fourth spot at a mean value of $79,226.
The use of new technologies, rapid growth of social media, apps, QR codes and hybrid meetings are all seen as major forms of communications and marketing as budgets have to be stretched. The use of social media to communicate before, during and after a meeting was highlighted by over 82 percent of respondents.
Electronic RFP products came in surprisingly low, at just under 25 percent, when buyers were asked what new technologies they’ll be using. At the other end of the spectrum, holograms made the list, though just under 4 percent of meeting buyers said ‘yes’ to using the technology.
The key issues that will have the most impact on increasing meetings and events business in the future included economic conditions, for budgets to improve, rates, prices and cost issues, introduction of new destinations (in terms of their value), and political and government issues.