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IBTM Global Research reveals a positive outlook for 2014

IBTM Global Research, presented on Nov. 20 at EIBTM 2013, revealed an increased level of optimism from European buyers and suppliers, with 93 percent of all buyer respondents predicting that conference and events business in Europe would either increase or stay the same over the next 12 months, compared to an 86 percent rate in the last 12 months.

Research revealed that suppliers were positive about the outlook for the meetings and events industry in 2014, with 93 percent of European respondents predicting that the volume of events will increase or stay the same over the next 12 months. Further to this, 57 percent of suppliers believed that buyers are looking to place business in a new destination within the next year.

“The research illustrates just how strong the flow of inbound and outbound business is for Europe, with the impact of economic problems in the Eurozone and elsewhere in recent years beginning to wane,” said Sally Greenhill, managing director, The Right Solution Ltd. “For the first time in recent years, the survey predicts that the global economy will not impact conference business in the next 12 months.”

In 2013, the most frequent issues identified by suppliers of the meetings and events industry included adding value for clients, developing relationships built on trust and excellent service, and demonstrating ROI.

By volume, the top 10 countries for events in Europe include Spain, Italy, Switzerland, the UK, France, Germany, Russia, Ukraine, the Netherlands and Turkey. Beyond Europe, buyers are taking large amounts of events outside the continent. The percentage of buyers holding events outside Europe are Asia at 35 percent, the Americas at 43 percent, Africa at 19 percent and the Middle East at 32 percent.

“It is encouraging to note that 21 percent of global buyers had experienced increases in European attendee numbers over the last 12 months, 65 percent said numbers were the same, and only 14 percent of buyers had experienced fewer attendees at their events,” said Greenhill.

Key factors influencing venue and destination choice included location, quality of service price/value for money and ease of access. Compliance with industry criteria was also rated as a high priority.

Research revealed the high use of new technologies and forms of communication during events with 65 percent using social media to communicate before, during or after meetings; 42 percent of meeting planners are handing out smartphones or tablets to provide delegates with information during conferences.

Supplier research supports these findings with 53 percent agreeing that new technologies are adding creative options for events. Social media evidently provides an invaluable communication tool for suppliers with 85 percent of suppliers using Facebook, 72 percent using Twitter and 68 percent using LinkedIn to communicate company information.

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