2013 Meetings Industry Forecast

If your organization is canceling a meeting in 2013, how are you engaging with that meeting's target audience? Replacing the meeting with a virtual event 24.6% Combining the meeting with another live event 22.0% Replacing the meeting with an on-site meeting 19.3% Increasing the level of internal communication (through emails, company intranet, etc.) 29.9% Taking no action 40.9%

Corporate executives are planning to make sales and training meetings a budgetary priority in 2013, according to a November 2012 survey of 382 Successful Meetings readers.

Asked how the number of meetings they are planning to manage in 2013 compares with those in 2012, nearly 23 percent of the respondents said they were planning more sales meetings, compared to about 18 percent planning fewer. And more than a quarter intend to increase the number of training meetings they hold this year, while just 18 percent are cutting them.

Association meetings, trade shows, consumer/marketing events, and incentives all showed more companies planning reductions than increases. Incentives are taking the biggest hit, with twice as many eliminating these motivational events (30 percent) as are increasing them (15 percent).

Projected attendance numbers bear out these trends. Nearly twice as many respondents say their sales meetings will have more attendees (33 percent) as say they will have fewer (16 percent). For training meetings, the numbers were 34 percent compared to 17 percent.

As for overall meetings budgets, about the same number of companies are increasing meetings spending as are cutting it - 31 percent and 29 percent, respectively. Budgets will remain unchanged in 40 percent of respondents' companies. The most popular area in which to cut budgets was food and beverage (reduced by 53 percent of respondents with decreased budgets), followed by offering fewer optional activities (41 percent), lower-tier hotels (31 percent), and avoiding beach/resort hotels (29 percent).

Meetings Move Online
One way in which many companies plan to mitigate the effects of reduced meetings budgets and fewer meetings is by replacing live events with virtual meetings, or by combining a smaller live meeting with virtual technology for a hybrid event.

Fully half of our respondents said they are increasing both the overall number and attendees of their virtual meetings, compared to less than 10 percent who are cutting them. For hybrid meetings, the ratio is three to one.

The Internet is also having a major effect on the way meetings are managed, planned, and executed. More than 63 percent of our respondents said online request-for-proposal (RFP) tools were growing "somewhat" to "very much" more important in 2013, versus 37 percent who did not consider them important. It was roughly the same for mobile apps, with 65 percent calling them important. But roughly three-fifths of the respondents said that third-party planning companies and site selection companies were not important. 

Here are the full survey results:

1. How does your overall 2013 meetings budget compare to 2012?                

Decreased significantly        10.1%

Decreased slightly                 19.1%

Unchanged                            39.4%

Increased slightly                  28.2%

Increased significantly         3.2%              


2. Is your organization implementing any cost-cutting measures in 2013? (check all that apply)                

Reducing the food & beverage budget       53.1%

Offering fewer optional activities                41.2%

Booking lower tier hotels                             31.3%                                                

Avoiding resort/beach destinations           29.4%                                                

Eliminating all optional activities                14.5%                                                


3. How does the number of meetings you will run in 2013 compare with 2012?

                                                            More               Less                 Same

Sales Meetings                                   22.8%             13.8%             63.4%

Training Meetings                             25.3%             18.2%             56.5%

Trade Shows                                      16.4%             22.0%             61.6%

Consumer/Marketing Events          20.9%             22.3%             56.8%

Incentive                                            14.9%             30.2%             54.9%

Association Meetings                        14.4%                         20.5%             65.1%

Virtual Meetings                                52.9%             8.4%               38.7%

Hybrid Meetings                               31.6%             10.5%             57.9%

4. What is your projection for your attendance levels in 2013 compared to 2012?

                                                            Increase         Decrease        Same


Sales Meetings                                   33.3%             16.0%             50.7%

Training Meetings                             34.1%             16.9%             49.0%

Trade Shows                                      27.9%             27.1%             45.0%

Consumer/Marketing Events          28.0%             21.0%             51.0%

Incentive                                            17.7%             26.9%             55.4%

Association Meetings                        26.2%             22.2%             51.6%

Virtual Meetings                                51.2%             9.0%               39.8%

Hybrid Meetings                               36.2%             12.1%             51.7%


5. If your organization is cancelling a meeting in 2013, how are you maintaining the engagement level with that meetings target audience? (check all that apply)

Taking no action                                                                    40.9%

Increasing the level of internal communication

(through emails, company intranet, etc.)                           29.9%

Replacing the meeting with a virtual event                       24.6%                                                

Combining the meeting with another live event               22.0%                                                

Replacing the meeting with an on-site meeting                19.3%                                    


6. How important will any of the following be to the management, procurement, planning, and execution of your meetings in 2013?                                                             

Not                  Somewhat      Important      Very

important       important                               important

Third party                58.6 %                        20.4%             11.6%             9.4%

Site selection              60.8%             18.7%             13.6%             6.9%

Online RFP tools        36.9%             28.9%             22.8%             11.4%

Mobile apps               35%                33.7%             22.2%             9.1%