To the Point

Meetings Are on the Upswing

For 23 years now, we have conducted an annual Meetings Market Survey to assess the overall health of the meetings industry and to spot key trends

 Each year, our meetingprofessional readers provide valuable insights on what they’re experiencing with their meetings, which helps us aggregate the state of the industry.

This year’s survey results show that meetings of all kinds fared slightly better in 2013 than the year before. Attendance, number of exhibitors, size of exhibition space, and budgets all increased, albeit modestly. Respondents also told us they expect the forward motion to continue in 2014, although increases likely will be incremental.

Considering some recent shaky years for the global economy — not to mention how meetings took a hit perception-wise in the United States — this positive momentum is something we should be proud of.

But the last few years have taught us not to take our past successes for granted. The pendulum swings both ways, and we must constantly challenge our organizations to better engage a wide range of attendees, and to increase our value to them. We must constantly reinvent our meetings in order to secure an even brighter future.

That’s why we look for ways to embrace — instead of competing against — technology. At Convening Leaders 2014, we enjoyed record attendance at our face-to-face annual meeting in Boston and at our hybrid event. There’s a market for both, and in the last few years, PC MA has been learning how to make these events complement each other and best serve different audiences. We’re also constantly re-evaluating opportunities to use new technology to connect with our members, and to help our members connect with each other.

That’s why we look to other industries for ways to enhance the face-to-face experience. “You have to get out of your own bubble and see what else is out there, learn, share, connect,” Liz Lathan, CMP, Dell’s director of event marketing, tells Convene in this month’s CMP Series story on corporate event marketing. “That’s the only way you’re going to innovate and move forward.” 

That’s also why our industry is launching a new Meetings Mean Business campaign to promote the value of face-to-face meetings. We can’t afford to wait for the next high-profile meetings scandal to make headlines. Instead of being reactive, the Meetings Mean Business campaign will allow us to be proactive and promote the merits of face-to-face meetings beyond their economic value.

Everyone in the industry will have an opportunity to get involved with this far-reaching campaign. Keep an eye out for how you can make a difference.

Deborah Sexton

Deborah Sexton is president and CEO of PCMA.