About 50 percent of corporate meeting planners canceled or postponed events scheduled within 90 days when interviewed by phone on September 25 about their post 9/11 meeting plans, according to an independent survey conducted by Strategic Database Research, Inc., Boca Raton, Fla.

The survey asked 150 corporate meeting planning customers and group travel agencies about their future meeting plans. It found that only 49 percent of those surveyed who had meetings booked within 90 days expected that their organizations would still hold those meetings.

Strategic Database Research, Inc., which provides call center/telemarketing services to hospitality and other corporate clients, conducted the corporate survey, which represented the finance, manufacturing, pharmaceutical, and insurance sectors, among others. "We wanted to gauge the preferences of corporate meeting planners versus the consumer traveler," said Peter Miller, president of SDR.

Thirty-three percent said they were outright canceling meetings, and 16 percent said they would reschedule (one percent were unsure).

Of those planners intending to reschedule, 46 percent cited that the conference or incentive would reschedule for last quarter 2001. However, 48 percent of planners anticipated a reduction in the number of individuals participating in conference and incentive programs.

Outside of the 90-day window, planners showed a higher resolve, with 89 percent of those surveyed indicating that such programs would not be affected by the events of 9/11. Domestic conferences and incentives were given the highest consideration, with 80 percent; versus Caribbean/Mexico/Canada, with 42 percent; and Europe/Asia/International with 34 percent. Eight-nine percent of planners surveyed said they would not consider changing destinations to avoid air travel.

Miller said that the company would do the same survey the week of October 22, to gauge the changes in preferences one month later.—By Betsy Bair