Are changes to meeting budgets creating havoc for you? If so, you’re not alone. “Changing budgets” is the No. 1 in-house trend for all categories of respondents to FutureWatch, the recently released annual membership survey from Meeting Professionals International. The study parsed responses from 1,643 meeting professionals by job—corporate planners, association planners, independent planners, and suppliers—and found that budget changes rank first in every group.
Workloads are the second-ranked in-house issue for corporate and independent planners, while shifting organizational goals and strategies ranks No. 2 for suppliers and association planners.
MPI also asked its membership about the external issues they’ll face in 2008. In an about-face from 2007, when the effect of terrorism and war on travel was respondents’ biggest issue, the economy is now top of mind. Looking at the respondents as one group, the top three external trends are, in order, “economic downturn and recession,” “cost of oil and gas,” and “inflation/rising costs.” The effect of terrorism and war on travel now ranks 10th.
This year, two new trends that did not make MPI’s list in 2007 held the fourth and fifth spots: “increased access to online information” and “environmental concerns.”
Breaking down these external trends by job reveals some interesting differences among MPI’s constituencies. For both corporate planners and independents, technology advances outranked economic issues as the No. 1 trend; association planners rank technology advances and increased access to information online as No. 2 and No. 3, respectively. Suppliers, which made up 44 percent of the respondents, were most uniformlyconcerned about the economy.
The far-reaching FutureWatch report also delves into meeting budgets for 2007 and 2008; use of various meeting technologies, such as RFP systems and meeting logistics tools; the use and management of webcasts; the involvement of the procurement department in meeting purchasing; preferred-customer loyalty strategies, and much more.