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A little over half, 54 percent, of meetings industry specialists in the U.S. and Canada have expressed cautious optimism about the return of the meetings and incentives market, according to a recent poll taken by the IMEX Group following its Frankfurt tradeshow. A further nine percent said that they are very optimistic.

The poll was conducted among 200 North American buyers and suppliers in June 2010, following the conclusion of IMEX in Frankfurt, which took place May 25-27, 2010.

The poll results are good news for the U.K.-based IMEX Group, which will launch its first annual IMEX America exhibition, October 11-13, 2011 in Las Vegas at the Sands Expo at the Venetian/Palazzo Hotel. The show’s strategic partner and major educational provider is MPI. It is endorsed by DMAI and Site, and has an Industry Partnership with PCMA.

“We recently declared an increase in the hosted buyer program for IMEX America, we now expect in excess of 2000 buyers, because our partners and intermediaries have a renewed confidence in future growth,” said Ray Bloom, chairman, IMEX Group. “This represents an increase of more than 30 percent on our initial launch figure. Our survey findings are also in line with other recent global and U.S. industry reports which suggests that this new found confidence is not just about mood but about real business volumes.”

The poll also revealed that Canadian planners are even more optimistic. While one in five, 21percent, U.S. planners doubt the meetings market is in recovery, Canadian buyers are generally convinced that already it is business as usual, suggesting that the sector has rebounded faster because their economy and financial systems were hit less severely.

As one planner explained, our financial system was never really in too much trouble. No banks closed, and there were few or no foreclosure increases. Business demands changed slightly but did not necessarily decline.

Another shared the opinion, that Canada is quickly moving out of the economic downturn … our GDP is up 6.1 percent already. Fortunately, perception may no longer be an issue.

In contrast, U.S. respondents acknowledge the possibility of continuing business volatility and that recovery may only be slow; however, their confidence is underpinned by a sense that there is pent up demand for travel.

According to one organizer, there is a resurgence in incentive programs from customers. Qualification levels are stronger and forecasts for 2011 are stronger than 2010. Another commented, there is an increase in the number of programs for 2010 over 2009, so that is a positive. There are encouraging small gains, as well as the better reception we are receiving to our offers.

Survey participants confirm also that their meetings and incentives tend to be short-notice, travel less far, remain value-conscious, and are simpler and more ROI-focused than those held prior to the downturn. Some argue that the formula of more for less, frugality and less frivolity, could prove to be the new reality for many years ahead.



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