Conference center use rebounding

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I love conference centers (such excellent learning environments), so I was glad to hear that the conference center biz is finally turning around. After three years in slump city, in 2004 revenues and profits started heading upward again, and hopes are high for a continuation of the trend this year, according to the recently released 2005 edition of Trends in the Conference Center

Industry, published by PKF Consulting in conjunction with the

International Association of Conference Centers.

“As a whole, our Trends in the Conference Center Industry sample enjoyed a

healthy 7.5 percent increase in total revenue in 2004,” said David Arnold,

eastern regional chief executive officer of PKF-C. “Operating under fairly

austere conditions after three years of declining revenue, center managers were

able to convert the gain in revenue into a 25.3 percent boost to the bottom-line

in 2004.”

“The best news is that conference center managers appear to be even more

optimistic about 2005,” Arnold noted. The conference centers in the survey

sample have budgeted for an average increase in occupancy of nine percent in

2005, matched by a 4.0 percent increase in package pricing. For conference

centers, most business is sold in packages that include accommodations, meals,

and conference services.

The rise in demand is coming mainly from business and academic groups' training and continuing education activities.

P.S. Something that made me grind my teeth this morning: One of the other meetings industry publications confused "conference center" with "convention center" in a brief e-writeup I received today about this survey. They even hinted that this is a sign that all the recent controversy around all the convention center building--some say overbuilding--is overblown. Please feel free to join me in a heartfelt aaaargh!

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