Religious Meeting Planners Say that 2009 was a Challenging Year — but Hope 2010 will be Better
Our exclusive, second annual market survey of RCMA meeting-planner members confirms what has been observed throughout the year: 2009 was a difficult year for. Attendance was down. Sponsorships and exhibitor attendance suffered. Some planners faced penalties, and others had to cancel their largest meeting.
But optimism is in the air for 2010. The vast majority of religious meeting planners — 68 percent — believe that the worst is over and attendance will not decline any further in 2010.
The online survey, conducted October 20 to November 13, asked about planners' 2009 experiences and 2010 expectations.
Here are the attendance results: More than 60 percent of respondents said that attendance for their primary meeting was flat or down. Eleven percent said attendance was down 20 percent to 34 percent. Another 11 percent said attendance was down 35 percent to 49 percent.
Only 12 percent of meeting planners said that they'd had to pay attrition penalties in 2009. Another 21 percent said that they had faced attrition but were able to negotiate it down or eliminate it.
Thirty-six percent of planners expect attendance in 2010 to be better than 2009. Thirty-two percent expect no change in 2010. Digging deeper, 16 percent of planners think attendance will increase 1 percent to 19 percent, and 20 percent of the planners expect attendance to increase 20 percent or more.
The picture for sponsor and exhibitor attendance indicates this: 43 percent of planners expect no change from 2009. Thirteen percent of planners think attendance will fall 13 percent, and 9 percent anticipate decreases of 20 percent to 34 percent.
Did you hold your largest regularly scheduled meeting as planned in 2009?
How did overall attendance at your largest regularly scheduled meeting compare with attendance at the same meeting in 2008?
|7.4%||Increase of 20 percent or more|
|25.9%||Increase of 1 percent to 19 percent|
|29.6%||Decrease of 1 percent to 19 percent|
|11.1%||Decrease of 20 percent to 34 percent|
|14.8%||Decrease of 35 percent to 49 percent|
At your largest regularly scheduled meeting in 2009, how was the attendance of your primary attendees/members affected?
|7.7%||Increase of 20 percent or more|
|19.2%||Increase of 1 percent to 19 percent|
|26.9%||Decrease of 1 percent to 19 percent|
|11.5%||Decrease of 20 percent to 34 percent|
|11.5%||Decrease of 35 percent to 49 percent|
At your largest regularly scheduled meeting in 2009, how was the attendance of your exhibitors/sponsors affected?
|8%||Increase of 1 percent to 19 percent|
|32%||Decrease of 1 percent to 19 percent|
|4%||Decrease of 20 percent to 34 percent|
|4%||Decrease of 35 percent to 49 percent|
|8%||Decrease of 50 percent or more|
If you experienced lower attendance than anticipated at your largest 2009 meeting, did attrition penalties come into play?
|12.5%||Yes, we had to pay attrition penalties for our 2009 meeting.|
|20.8%||We owed attrition for our 2009 meeting but were able to negotiate it down or eliminate it.|
|25%||No, we did not experience an attrition penalty for our 2009 meeting.|
|41.7%||Not applicable: No shortfall occurred.|
If your meetings had attendance shortfalls, did you try to renegotiate terms with your suppliers?
If your hotel supplier was willing to renegotiate, how did you mitigate?
|60%||Lowered room rate|
|30%||Negotiated lower F&B minimums|
|0%||Increased our F&B use|
|0%||Tried to invokeclause to mitigate attendance shortfall|
|10%||Supplier offered to increase efforts to attract attendees|
|20%||Promised to bring future business to hotel or venue|
If you had to cancel your largest meeting in 2009, did you pay cancellation fees?
Do you plan to hold your largest regularly scheduled meeting in 2010?
At your largest regularly scheduled meeting in 2010, what do you expect from primary attendees/members compared to 2009?
|20%||Increase of 20 percent or more|
|16%||Increase of 1 percent to 19 percent|
|24%||Decrease of 1 percent to 19 percent|
|8%||Decrease of 20 percent to 34 percent|
At your largest regularly scheduled meeting in 2010, what do you expect from exhibitors/sponsors compared to 2009?
|8.7%||Increase of 20 percent or more|
|26.1%||Increase of 1 percent to 19 percent|
|13.0%||Decrease of 1 percent to 19 percent|
|8.7%||Decrease of 20 percent to 34 percent|
If you expect lower attendance at your largest 2010 meeting, do you expect attrition penalties to come into play?
|0%||Yes, we expect to pay attrition penalties for our 2010 meeting.|
|15%||We expect to owe attrition, but we expect to be able to negotiate it down or eliminate it.|
|85%||No, we do not expect an attrition penalty for our 2010 meeting.|
If your largest 2010 meeting has attendance shortfalls, will you try to renegotiate terms with your suppliers?
If your supplier is willing to renegotiate, how will you mitigate?
|18.8%||Decrease the room rate|
|43.8%||Decrease F&B minimums|
|12.5%||Increase our F&B use|
|12.5%||Try to invoke force majeure clause to mitigate attendance shortfall|
|18.8%||Supplier will increase efforts to attract attendees|
|37.5%||Promise to bring future business to hotel or venue|
Looking at all of the meetings that your organization holds in a year, please check the boxes that describe what you expect to do in 2010 to cut costs.
|23.1%||Replace large meeting with regional or smaller meetings.|
|30.8%||Eliminate some small meetings|
|26.9%||Replace some live meetings with virtual meetings or conference calls|
|38.5%||Change to a more affordable destination/facility|
|26.9%||Will not make any changes to cut costs|
What strategies are you planning to use to increase attendance at your 2010 meeting(s)?
|42.3%||Work with CVBs to market destinations|
|53.8%||Increase promotional mailings|
|84.6%||Increase e-mail promotion|
|42.3%||Use(Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.)to promote meetings|
|26.9%||Create campaigns specific to each attendee segment your organization serves|
|69.2%||Use personal outreach from board members/staff|
|46.2%||Use personal outreach from active members|
Please check the box that best describes your organization's meeting-staffing level, as compared to one year ago.
If your meeting-staff levels have decreased, please check the boxes that describe how you have responded.
|33.3%||Used technology to increase productivity|
|11.1%||Moved some work functions to outside vendors|
|38.9%||Worked longer hours|
|38.9%||I have made no changes|