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Convention centers have identified growing international competition and government policies toward meetings and events participation as their top concerns heading into a period of only gradual economic recovery, according to the latest annual survey carried out by International Association of Convention Centres (AIPC).

The survey, carried out between April and June 2013, achieved a 65 percent response rate from centers in 54 countries with a heavy representation in Europe. It is now available to AIPC members at www.aipc.org.

AIPC Column_logo“Growing competition amongst centers worldwide has been an issue for some years, but this very real spike in concern about government attitudes toward business events is a disturbing new development,” said Geoff Donaghy, president, AIPC. “At a time when economic growth and stabilization is a big priority amongst governments all over the world, we would have hoped they would have made the connection this has with business and professional interactions, but our member experiences are suggesting otherwise. This shows we need to work even harder on making sure our value proposition is better understood and appreciated by policy makers.”

Other key survey findings:

  • While centers have seen 6-7 percent revenue growth in the past few years, they are anticipating slower growth (1 percent) for 2013 in the face of ongoing stagnation in economic recovery. European centers are lagging other parts of the world due largely to economic conditions there.
  • Recovering corporate event business is driving growth in many areas while conventions, exhibitions remain stagnant.
  • Many centers are pursuing alternate revenue streams, including event creation, sponsorship and advertising and enhanced services and are also engaging in increased risk sharing with clients to encourage more business.
  •  Centers are challenged by rapid change in event formats and explosive growth in technology and connectivity demands, both of which require greater facility investment in a time of only modest revenue growth.
  • Challenges arising from hotel and airline capacity and pricing were also cited in many areas as factors potentially limiting center business.

“Overall, what this tells us is that there is no instant business upswing in the cards for centers in the near future,” said Donaghy. “As in many other sectors in today’s economy, success in ours will have to be based on innovation, flexibility and an ability to be competitive in a highly contested market.”

AIPC represents a global network of over 170 leading centers in 54 countries with the active involvement of more than 900 management-level professionals worldwide.

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