In the recently released Futurewatch 2003 survey by Meeting Professionals International and American Express, planners projected an overall average budget decrease of 1.1 percent in 2003 and 1 percent average growth in the number of meetings they will plan. Meanwhile, suppliers forecasted a 6 percent average increase in meeting revenue and the number of meetings they will host.
Why the gap? It could be as simple as interpretation, says Tom Chevins, senior vice president of sales and marketing with Omni Hotels. If questions were skewed toward respondents' personal business, then it's easy to see why a supplier would project an increase: He hopes to take business away from other suppliers.
MPI's analysis: Meeting planning is becoming more of a price-based model, and suppliers are driven to capture more market share. In other words, 2003 will remain a buyer's market.
There is also division about flexible cancellation andclauses. Nearly one-third of planner respondents said relaxation of those clauses was the most significant operational trend for 2003. The majority of suppliers (34 percent), on the other hand, responded that “more flexible pricing, additional incentives, or better services” were the top ways they'd help planners economically. Only 15 percent said that they would consider less stringent attrition or cancellation clauses.
Other Survey Results:
Independent planners will have the largest budgets in 2003, with an average of $4.8 million in annual spending. (See story, page 41.)
Primary markets continue to dominate, but 9 percent of planners expect to increase use of secondary, regional, and domestic markets.
Association Insights, a market research firm, conducted the survey. About 15,500 MPI members were invited to participate by e-mail; 13 percent of suppliers (1,130) and 18 percent of planners (1,340) responded.