Fifth Grass Roots Meetings Industry Report outlook proves positive

More meetings and business moving ahead in all venue types in 2010, was a key message from the fifth annual Grass Roots Meetings Industry Report, published 31 March.
The meetings, events and communications agency’s annual survey, launched at the Connaught Hotel in London and including data from 60 meeting industry associations and companies, concluded, however, nearly 18 per cent of respondents did not calculate return on investment (ROI) on meetings spend.

The report said the three venue types which benefitted most were independent hotels, up 37 per cent in 2010, non-residential training venues (up 32%) and residential training centres, up 27 per cent last year on the 2009 figure.

Cost reduction topped the agenda for nearly 80 per cent of procurement professionals in the meetings and events arena.

Grass Roots Global Head of Events Nick Bender said: “In spite of the widespread pessimism we saw across the industry last year, the true picture is that business actually increased across all venue types in 2010. In the early part of this year we have seen budgets increasing in a number of sectors, such as financial services, professional services and automotive.”

Predictions for 2011 among those surveyed include continuing growth in the incentive travel and events market, as the demand for ‘exclusive to the destination experiences’ continues to grow.

Grass Roots MD Venue Procurement Des McLaughlin said companies were increasingly looking to better utilise their internal space for meetings. He also identified a steady rise in the use of unusual venues.

“For many,” he said, ”this is seen as a consequence of hotels failing to create innovative new products. We have seen enquiries for venues that offer something different double since pre-recession levels and have noticed that one in 10 new venues selling to the meetings market is categorising itself as an unusual venue, with no signs of their appeal waning in 2011. This being said, business for hotel groups and conference centres has also increased, which is likely to be as a result of companies reinstating their meeting budgets.”

The Grass Roots report cautions that we are far from a return to pre-recession ‘good old days’, noting that lavish client events are yet to come back and companies remain rate sensitive.

The report predicts rates will start to rise throughout 2011, with much of this increase driven by venues in key cities, however levels are predicted to still be down 10 per cent on 2008.

McLaughlin said: “2010 proved to be a better year than many people in the meetings industry hoped for. Clients continued to invest in training after the freeze of early 2009 and we saw an upturn in external venues being used to accommodate these. In addition to training, client meetings and events came back strongly, too, with companies increasingly believing in the value of face-to-face networking.”

Other key insights from the report included experiential marketing set to see an uplift of at least 100 per cent year-on-year for the next three years, owing to the deep-seated desire by procurement departments to be able to accurately measure ROI.

The fifth annual Grass Roots Meetings Industry Report can be downloaded here.
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Paul Colston


Paul Colston

Managing Editor, Conference News & Conference & Meetings World.

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