Powerhouse DMC network Global Events Partners, based in Washington, says its members predict better business in 2006 over 2005 despite global economic and political worries. Partner DMCs in the United States are slightly more optimistic than international partners, especially for "big events."
The survey polled GEP's more than 70 DMCs worldwide, and approximately two-thirds of them responded to the survey, representing nearly 40 countries, according to a press release from GEP.
Among the survey's findings:
- More than 80 percent of all respondents expected revenues for corporate events to increase in 2006 versus 2005. All but one DMC in the U.S. expected revenues to increase year over year, with a slightly smaller percentage of DMCs outside the U.S expressing similarly optimistic views.
- Sentiment was even stronger for anticipated revenue receipts from meeting planners. More than 90 percent of those surveyed expected to see more money spent by meeting planners for corporate events in 2006. Every respondent to the survey in the U.S. expected to see expenditures by corporate meeting planners increase, while internationally, several partners thought corporate meeting revenues would either "decrease or stay the same."
- Expectations were more split in the area of "big events," defined as a corporate event involving more than 200 participants. Among those partners responding, approximately two-thirds expect that the number of "big events" will increase in 2006--by contrast, approximately one-third, predominantly outside the U.S., predict that revenues from big events will either "decrease or stay the same."
- Among reasons cited for a possible falloff in "big event" activity: The large numbers of big events held in 2005 (making year-over-year comparisons weaker), and increasing interest among meeting planners in holding smaller, more targeted events in more intimate settings.
- There were some surprises among the destinations that GEP partners believe will be the "hottest" for corporate meetings and events in 2006--among them:
New York City and San Francisco were mentioned infrequently, with less than 10 percent of respondents citing them as likely to be "hot" destinations for groups from within their regions in 2006.
China and Eastern Europe emerged as new favorites, with several partners mentioning them as increasingly attractive destinations.
Las Vegas and Orlando, perennial favorites, were mentioned by close to half the respondents, and seem likely to continue as favorites among meeting planners.
Additionally cited among "hot" destinations: In the U.S., San Diego, Miami and Chicago drew multiple responses. Internationally, France, the United Kingdom and the South Pacific received at least three mentions.
In addition to changes in anticipated revenues and in the makeup of their business, GEP partner DMCs were asked to summarize the most pressing challenges facing their DMC businesses. The most frequently cited challenges were:
- Short turnaround times for responding to RFPs and proposals
- Increasing operating costs--including health care and insurance for employees
- Challenges in locating, training and retaining qualified staff
- Continued pressures on profit margins, as meeting planners and procurement specialists become even more careful about allocating resources
Commenting on the survey results, GEP chairman and CEO Chris White said, "We are pleased to share these results with the DMC and meeting planning industries. As we close 2005, a year that saw strong results for the destination management industry worldwide, 2006 looks like it will be even better."
He added, "The spirit that seems to be animating our industry--worldwide, from Miami to Malaysia to Madrid--is one of optimism and expected growth despite a certain amount of continuing political and economic uncertainty. As we move toward 2006, the DMC industry remains not only vibrant and optimistic but, as any business, confronted by challenges that can affect profits at every level of a DMC organization."