Last time the survey was conducted in March of this year, 67% of respondents declared themselves “more optimistic” than during the same period in 2012. This too was a 1% increase on the previous period suggesting a small but consistent rise in business confidence.
Optimism & Stability Appear to Go Hand-in-Hand
When asked to predict whether the number of meetings, events or incentives they organize throughout the rest of 2013 and into 2014 is likely to change, 55% said they expected volumes to increase slightly, 6% expected a significant increase and 32% anticipated volumes would remain the same. This compares to March 2013 numbers which had 59% expecting slight increases in volume, 8.5% expecting significant increases, and just 22% believing levels would remain the same.
On budget changes and expectations, the recent survey asked respondents to compare their 2012 budget with that available to spend in 2013. Results show that for 27% budgets have stayed the same (March 2013: 26%) whereas for 16% there has been a slight reduction. However just under half have received a slight budget increase – 48% (the same as the previous survey period).
ROI, Cut Control & Green Meetings Are Top of Mind
The survey also seeks to find those business issues exerting the most influence on buying and planning considerations. Respondents were asked to put six factors into order of priority based on current meetings and events buying behavior. “How to demonstrate ROI in a way that my management understands” was the most important consideration (38%), followed closely by taking “The need - or instruction - to cut costs” into account (37%).
Although the list of factors had been reduced for this latest survey (omitting “Risk management, e.g. security fears, political instability, government policy changes,” for example, given that such factors are constants, rather than variables for meeting planners), “the need to plan greener meetings and events” is becoming a more important issue for many. It ranked as the third strongest influence on current decision-making, compared to fourth in the March survey.
Similar to the apparent growth in green meeting awareness and planning, corporate social responsibility is also beginning to exert a stronger influence. This time around 29% of respondents agreed with the statement “CSR is more important. We understand its value but we don’t yet have policies/guidelines in place” compared to 23% in the March survey. The shift from understanding to defined policy still has a way to go. Previously 22% confirmed they were developing CSR policies at the time of asking, which dropped to 18% in the current survey, although this could be a function of seasonality with the start of a new year being a more traditional time for formulating new business policies.
The summer version of the IMEX America Index of Optimism survey always asks a few light-hearted questions to try and reveal lifestyle information about meetings and events industry professionals in North America. For summer 2013 the questions centered on favorite music and books and treasured items (non-business related) that respondents never travel without (both open-ended questions).
“Blurred lines” caught the flavor of summer
The overwhelming favorite summer song was Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines”, followed by Florida Georgia Line’s “Cruise,” with a smattering of feel-good mentions for Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” with Nile Rodgers.
A pillow and a good book are a traveller’s best friend
Books were, not surprisingly, the clear winner of a must-have travel item for most who answered the question: “Every time you pack for a business trip is there one non-business related item that you always take with you?” In a clear second place spot was packing a pillow from home, with many savvy travellers relying on this personal comfort for a better night’s sleep in a hotel as well as on long flights. Exercise clothing also featured strongly among the group, as did a photo of loved ones as a way to keep family “close” during a business trip.