2011 was a year of great changes in the global meeting and events industry, said Robert Davidson, EIBTM's industry analyst and a senior lecturer in event management at the UK's University of Greenwich, in unveiling the "2011 EIBTM Industry Trends & Market Report" today.
After a "buoyant and upbeat" first half of the year, Davidson said, that mood was dampened over the summer by what he called "an increasingly uneven and uncertain economic recovery."
Despite that, "the prevailing mood in the meetings and events industry is one of confidence and steady growth" heading into 2012, he said. "Most analysts predict that corporate meetings demand will continue to grow worldwide, approaching peak 2008 levels by year-end 2012 and that rates for meetings venues will rise faster in 2012 than in 2011."
As the year went on, the U.S. and European meetings industry became increasingly uncertain, while emerging economies, especially the BRIC countries, saw "muscular growth," Davidson said, noting that the Economist Intelligence Unit predicts Brazil will overtake the U.K. as the world's sixth largest economy in 2012.
As for Europe, uncertainty over the growing Eurozone debt crisis is a growing cloud. In the U.S., Davidson pointed to the August Meeting Professionals International Business Barometer report, in which 69 percent of respondents said the U.S. congress, U.S. economy, and global economy were the factors that will most influence the meetings business.
On the incentive travel front, Davidson pointed to research showing the business is stabilizing, but remains extremely sensitive to perceptions and accusations of extravagance.