Meeting Industry Outlook
In February, TCB met with a group of meeting and event professionals to get their insights on the state of their industry. After lunch provided by Wildside Catering of St. Paul, we surveyed the attendees—with the help of an audience response system from Minneapolis-based IML—and discussed what a difficult economy might have in store for Minnesota meetings, events, and conventions. In addition, we used an online survey to question meeting planners who could not attend our gathering about their work in the industry, and their outlook in the current economy.
The 30-plus survey respondents work in small, midsized, and large companies, with large and small staffs. The majority have more than 10 years of meeting-planning experience, and many hold certifications from the American Society of Association Executives, the Convention Industry Council, and Meeting Professionals International. The conversation ranged from the difficulty in attracting sponsors to the negative press about corporate incentive trips.
Some reflected on how the hit the industry took in September 2001 may have prepared them for the current recession. “I think as a corporation, we learned different behaviors,” says Kim Meck, manager in meeting and trade show management at 3M. “We learned to do with less. We learned that some of that essential travel was not essential. If you look at travel patterns across corporate America, it hasn’t rebounded to the degree that it had been. It’s taken years to get to where we’re at, and we’ve learned a different way of doing business.”
Here we present a few glimpses of what we learned from the meeting professionals.