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Industry sectors offer predictions. (Meeting Trends).

A crystal ball sure would come in handy in these topsy-turvy times. Here's the next best thing: predictions for what's on the horizon from meeting planners and convention and visitors bureaus.

Meeting planners. Budgets will get even tighter, according to meeting planners in the United States, Canada, and Europe surveyed by Meeting Professionals International, Dallas, although they project a slight increase in the number of meetings they will plan. The impact of the Internet and related online technology will be considerable, with some suggesting that "an industry built on relationship-based buying and selling" is headed for a sea change. Planners surveyed in MPI's "FutureWatch 2003" estimate that using the Web to shop for destinations and venues will increase 23 percent. It comes as no surprise, then, that 81 percent of supplier members surveyed expect to invest in Web site improvements. Fifty-four percent of suppliers also anticipate increasing their investment in customer relationship management technology training.

CVBs. Local government deficits will result in closer scrutiny of bureaus' marketing and operational budgets, according to Michael D. Gehrisch, president and chief executive officer of the International Association of Convention & Visitor Bureaus, Washington, D.C. To stave off budget cuts, CVBs will have to remind elected officials of the considerable revenue that bureau activities generate (i.e., the average meeting attendee stays an average of three nights and spends $1,000 per visit) and invest new resources in promoting their destinations, perhaps via branding strategies.

Despite inevitable budget skirmishes, Gehrisch expressed guarded optimism for a modest recovery throughout 2003 and the first quarter of 2004. Noting the trend toward online booking and its effect on traditional CVB room blocks, he foresees new alternatives being developed to "accurately track meeting attendees."
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Publication:Association Management
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 1, 2003
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