Independents' Day The good news is that more than nine out of 10 independent meeting planners believe their business will grow in the next year. The bad news is that there may be so many independents that if the current economic boom ever comes to an end, there won't be enough meetings to go around.

The good news comes from a survey of 300 independent meeting planners commissioned by Meeting Professionals International and conducted by MPI's research center, along with Association Marketing & Research. More than 72 percent of those people surveyed have had at least 10 years of meeting planning experience.

Corporate meetings accounted for 41 percent of the respondents' work. Other types of events planned included incentive gatherings (14 percent), special events (13 percent), and company sales meetings (12 percent).

The 300 meeting planners surveyed expect to organize 9,736 meetings next year, a bounty they attribute to growth in the meeting industry. Danny Treece, president, American Meetings & Events, Charlotte, N.C., and cochair of MPI's independent planner special interest group, is concerned about a potential oversupply of independent planners. He says the current passion for corporate mergers and acquisitions has displaced many in-house meeting planners, who then hang out their own shingles. Treece wonders about their staying power when the economy shifts.

And which independents will still be planning meetings in 2010?

"The ones who are entrepreneurial," replies Treece.