Recessionary Times Put Focus on Benefits of Meetings All Over the World

The global meetings industry is facing strong challenges during the economic downturn, but now, more than ever, is the time to make carefully calculated investments in corporate meetings, incentive travel, conferences, and exhibitions.

Above-the-line and through-the-line advertising and promotion have been hardest hit by the global recession, as corporations big and small seek to rein in their expenditures and get maximum return for their marketing budgets.

The knee-jerk reaction by many has been to downscale meetings, yet this is possibly the most unwise and short-term reaction to a long-term challenge. Long-haul travel is one of the most seriously affected of all travel sectors, as companies and individuals seek to contain expenditures.

But this is the time to make meetings work for your company. By being completely focused on the potential of exhibitions, conferences, and others forms of congress, a corporation can best channel its marketing investment and gain not only measurable results but also cut costs in the long term.

In times past, business deals were done on a handshake. That basic premise—the handshake being the contract—is still alive today, and in times when many are doubting the wisdom of industry leaders and captains of the financial sector, that handshake and face time is more important than ever.

In Thailand, there have been several setbacks to confidence in recent months and years, but with that said, the country has made bold steps to guarantee that the meetings market, and tourism in general, can continue to prosper and offer some of the best value per marketing dollar available.

Risk is a huge factor in planning an event of any kind, and minimizing that risk has to be at the forefront of every planner’s mind. There is not a country in the world that is immune to political risk, from the U.S., to China, to the tiniest archipelago, which means the meetings industry has to be ahead of the game in terms of mitigating risk.

The meetings industry is about people, ideas, and places and putting them together. The only way to ensure success is that the best people share their best ideas in the best places. It is a simple equation, and one that leaves most people motivated and excited.

In times of economic crisis, investment in meetings is compelling. The meetings industry, by its very nature, is a 360-degree influencer, with thousands of jobs created, services utilized, positive feelings inspired, and the overall generation of goodwill that cannot be underestimated.

Business-to-business (B2B) communication is the foundation on which the meetings industry is built, because by bringing like-minded and sector-specific experts and operatives together you have made the strongest links possible. Much has been said about the cost of travel, the "waste" of time, and the questionable effectiveness of the global meetings industry.

Every country with meetings capability is aggressively bidding to host events. Thailand, which boasts some of the most competitive meetings industry venues, attractions, and infrastructure, has reached out to the global community more than ever before. Recent setbacks have not stopped numerous headline events being scheduled for Bangkok, Phuket, Pattaya, and elsewhere.

One of the most daunting challenges for a city, country, or venue is the bidding process for meetings and other major events. The requirements are myriad and the details exhaustive, but it is possible to gain advice from professional congress organisers (PCOs) to help structure a winning bid.

While these recessionary times mean cost is high on the agenda, the overall return on investment should not be overlooked. PCOs are best-positioned to assess the opportunities, factor in risk management procedures, and also ensure flawless execution of arrangements.

Don’t go it alone.

Marcel Ewals is managing director of AsiaCongress and director of Kenes MP Asia, some of Asia-Pacific’s leading meetings industry companies. He has 20 years of experience in the meetings industry and has been in Asia since 1992. He is currently involved in several companies under the PICO Group related to event management. Marcel enjoys starting new ventures in the MICE industry, loves assisting troubled events in re-strategizing and marketing, and driving technology applications. He regularly lectures in event management in various universities and is active in several industry associations.

Source: Incentive Magazine