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16 Jan, 2013

FREE Download: Study Reveals Shift in U.S. Meeting Trends


SAN DIEGO- 14 Jan 2013 – (BUSINESS WIRE)–The U.S. meetings industry has recovered from the corporate travel cutbacks of the 2008 recession, but meetings will never be the same, according to a new study by The ACTIVE Network, Inc. (NYSE:ACTV), the leaders in Activity and Participant Management™ (APM) solutions.

ACTIVE Network’s Business Solutions Group studied meeting planning patterns in five key destinations over the past four years in their latest study, Event Trends: 2008-2012, which reveals that organizations have reinvented their event sourcing practices to fit today’s corporate cost-control and savings goals. The study shows that requests for meeting proposals are now exceeding pre-recession levels but companies are:

  • Meeting smaller – by paring the number of people attending events, often to under 50;
  • Meeting shorter – by reducing event length to same or one-day meetings;
  • Planning on the fly by sourcing for meeting services with less lead time in order to accommodate fluctuating event budgets.

“Companies still value meeting face to face, but this study documents how the meetings and events landscape has changed over the past four years,” said JR Sherman, Senior Vice President of Business Solutions at ACTIVE Network. “Organizations are adopting strategies such as trimming event size, switching to local destinations and holding shorter meetings in order to reduce and control meeting costs. In our study, we provide ‘smart tips’ to address these trends, as well as identify specific sourcing patterns in each of the destination cities, which serve as a roadmap to help both meeting buyers and suppliers take full advantage of these new realities.”

Meetings Are Back

After plunging precipitously between 2008 and 2009 as the economy went into a tailspin, average monthly unique electronic requests for proposal (eRFPs) across the five cities in the study: Chicago, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New York and Orlando, surpassed 2008 levels by 6% during the first 10 months of 2012. More significantly, the total eRFPs received through October 2012 stood 46% higher than the recessionary low-mark in 2009, illustrating the dramatic scale of the recovery.

Small Is Practical

Half of all 2012 eRFPs tracked across the study’s five cities were for meetings under 50 people, representing a 5% increase compared to 2008. Over the same period, the number of events with 51-100 and 101-250 attendees fell by 2% and 3%, respectively. The shift to smaller meetings – enabling savings on airfare, hotel, and food and beverage costs – requires a different strategy for sourcing hotels and venues.

Shorter Can Increase Efficiency

Same and one-day events now represent more than one-third (35%) of eRFPs, up 14% from 2008, showing a clear migration by companies to shorten events to cut down on costs. In addition, two and three-day events fell from 46% of eRFPs in 2008 to 40% in 2012. The trend is expected to fuel the demand for mobile applications that streamline meeting tasks, such as downloading agendas and providing session feedback, to help attendees do more with less time.

Lead Times Are Shrinking

A full 30% of eRFP lead times in the first 10 months of 2012 were just 60 days or less, up from 27% in 2008. Likewise, lead times of 121 days and more fell from 41% to 38% over the same time frame. The shorter lead times reflect delays in meetings budget approvals as companies watch their wallets more closely, requiring hotels to be quicker on their feet and planners to narrow their focus accordingly.

Trends Differ from City to City

Changes in eRFP meeting size, event duration and sourcing lead time over the last four years vary from city to city. Studying the city-by-city trends identified in the study can help both hotels and meeting planners make more informed decisions about promotions and destinations.

The data used for the Event Trends: 2008-2012 analysis, and included in this press release, was drawn from nearly 36,000 unique eRFPs sent via ACTIVE Network’s StarCite Supplier Marketplace to a statically relevant sample of hotels located in each of the five cities, from January 2008 through October 2012. The eRFPs represent ACTIVE Network customers in a wide variety of industries, including Automotive & Transport, Consumer Goods & Services, Energy & Utilities, Financial Services, Healthcare & Pharmaceutical, Industrial Services, Insurance, Retail, Technology & Communications, and Travel & Hospitality.

The full report can be downloaded here (Registration required).