Not many organizations were hiring in 2010 as unemployment rates hovered just below 10 percent, but association management companies were bucking that trend. According to a survey by the AMC Institute, a trade association that represents association management companies worldwide, 44 percent of AMCs added staff in 2010 to handle either new clients or increased business from existing clients. And the demand for meeting services outpaced all other services. In 2009, just 33 percent of AMCs added new staff.

According to the year-end review, more than three quarters of the AMCs responding to the survey said that request for proposals for full-service management increased or remained steady in 2010 (about 40 percent saw an increase while 37 percent said RFPs stayed about the same). Professionals from 70 AMCs, representing about 40 percent of the AMC Institute’s 180 member companies, responded to the survey.

The numbers for outsourced management, meaning the AMC was hired to handle one or more functions, were also positive in 2010. About 62 percent said the number of RFPs for project work either increased or stayed the same. Of the 32 percent of AMCs that reported an increased demand for outsourced management, the largest growth areas were meetings/conventions management services (61 percent), financial management (42 percent), membership services (32 percent), and Web services (32 percent).

The outlook for this year is even brighter. Approximately four-fifths of the AMC respondents expect the number of full-service clients to rise in 2011, while 52 percent believe that outsourced management clients will increase. Also, 64 percent of responding AMCs anticipate more services for current clients in 2011.

“Amid growing inquiries and an expanding client base, our takeaway is that the association management company model continues to be an invaluable resource for associations,” said AMC Board President John Dee, who is also chief operating officer and chief financial officer at Bostrom, a Chicago-based AMC, during the AMC Institute’s annual meeting held at Mohegan Sun, Uncasville, Conn., February 16-19, which marked increased attendance over last year. He believes the economic downturn has helped AMC’s value proposition. “As the recovery took place, and people got used to the idea of doing business differently, our outsourcing model really became viable.”