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Favourable business conditions for events while budgets remain flat, says Meetings Outlook report

Meeting Professionals International (MPI) released its Meetings Outlook report at IBTM in November, highlighting projected favourable business conditions, with a caveat that budgets were unlikely to increase.

Only 1.5 per cent of those polled in the report believed that budget conditions were favourable, with 43 per cent thinking future budgets would be 1-5 per cent better.

A cautious approach was the order of the day, with safety and security at events highlighted as the area where budgets would be allocated.

Jessie States, head of meeting innovation for MPI, reported that 33 per cent said there were growth opportunities in the Eurozone as well as in other domestic regions.

The global projected business conditions were 63 per cent favourable, while 15 per cent were negative.

“One of the biggest areas of change is in the use of contractors in the events industry,” States said.

The number of contractors was high because “organisations are not ready to invest in full-time staff”, so there was a trend to bring in a workforce who are not employees, she added.

These contractors are “specialising in different areas such as tech, food and beverage. They are starting their own business and come in on a consultative level to advise companies.”

Current employment trends according to MPI show an increase of 43 per cent in contract staff, and a 34 per cent increase in part-time workers.

Delving into the changing nature of events, States said there would be shorter, more frequent events, with 30 per cent of sessions shorter and 35 per cent of events larger. Projected live attendance was 61 per cent positive, 23 per cent flat, and 16 per cent negative.

Delegates are looking for a more hands-on experience, with an element of virtual reality “to learn, show, educate, and change mind sets,” States said. “The focus is on the challenge of balancing true, cutting-edge delivery and immersion methods.”

In terms of corporate responsibility, there was additional interest and adding activities related to this area, while “22 per cent said CSR was now a normal piece of the planning process.”

Contract negotiations are more complex, the report found, with 54.9 per cent agreeing with this. States said: “It’s a sellers’ marketplace and they have better leverage.”