RoseAnn Howard delivered a sigh-worthy statement at Meeting Professionals International's 2002 World Education Congress in Toronto: “We've had no meeting cancellations,” said Howard, director of meetings and events for Yum! Brands Inc. “In fact, we've increased the number of our meetings. They're vital to our business.”

Still, the industry has seen extraordinary change in the last year. Meetings are as important as ever, but how, when, and why they're held is different. Change is the new norm.

“The past may be a poor predictor of the future of our industry,” said Christine Duffy, president and COO, Philadelphia-based McGettigan Partners, who moderated a State of the Industry panel discussion heard by some of the 2,900 attendees at the July conference.

Big topics among planners in 2002: technology, outsourcing, consolidation, the buyer's market, air travel, and security. Other trends discussed at MPI:

  • Attrition, particularly in light of attendees booking discounted Web sites.

  • Standardization moves forward with APEX, but seems to be less of an issue than it used to be.

  • There is less emphasis on globalization, and more on regional meetings.

  • Corporations continue to reign in travel costs by booking discount airlines, booking online, and reducing meeting time.

  • Lead times for meetings are getting shorter and continuing to shrink.



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