MPI: Meeting Planners Report Economic Improvement, Fuel Concerns

The economy is rising, along with spending on meetings and meeting attendance. Unfortunately, so is the number of meeting planners who are worried about the cost of fuel and air travel, finds the latest MPI Business Barometer from Meeting Professionals International, the results of which were released yesterday.

According to the April 2011 MPI Business Barometer, the number of meeting planners reporting economic improvement increased by 4 percent between February and April, from 10 percent to 14 percent, with most improvements being reported by European planners. Also up by 4 percent is the number of meeting planners reporting more business, up from 2 percent in February to 6 percent in April.

Other positive findings:

• The number of planners reporting favorable conditions compared to last year is up from 16 percent in February to 23 percent in April.

• Employment appears to be relatively stable, with 25 percent of planners reporting increasing full-time employment (up from 24 percent in February), 23 percent reporting increasing part-time employment (down from 27 percent in February) and 38 percent reporting increasing contractor employment (up from 31 percent in February).

• Attendance continues to grow, with 54 percent of planners reporting increasing attendance, down slightly from 55 percent in February.

• Forty-six percent of planners report increased spending on meetings (25 percent of planners report a 1 to 5 percent increase; 12 percent a 6 to 10 percent increase; and 9 percent a greater than 10 percent increase).

Despite strong indicators, MPI reported a 16 percent increase in the number of meeting planners who cite "U.S. Fuel and Airfare Increases" as a top trend impacting their meetings and events. While they report the current effect as moderate or negligible, 21 percent expressed concerns about future costs, up from 2 percent in February.

Said one Business Barometer respondent, "Fuel prices are deeply affecting airfares, and we are concerned this will negatively impact attendance at Q3 and Q4 meetings."