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IMEX America, the nation’s exhibition for incentive travel, meetings and events, conducted its annual Index of Optimism survey to track optimism levels from a range of respondents in March 2013. The survey took a sample of 400 North American meetings industry buyers and suppliers.

Resulting in a slight increase of 1 percent, 67 percent of respondents declared themselves “more optimistic” than during the same period in 2012.

When asked to predict whether the number of meetings, events or incentives they organize throughout the 2013-2014 year is likely to change, 55 percent said they expected volumes to increase slightly, 6 percent expected a significant increase and 32 percent anticipated volumes would remain the same.

Seeking to find business issues that exert the most influence on buying and planning considerations, respondents were asked to put six factors in order of priority based on current meetings and events buying behavior. “How to demonstrate ROI (return on investment) in a way that my management understands” was the most important consideration with 38 percent, followed closely by taking “The need – or instruction – to cut costs” into account with 37 percent.

Ranking as the third strongest influence on current decision-making, “the need to plan greener meetings and events” is becoming a more important issue for many.

Adding a few light-hearted questions into the mix, the summer version of the IMEX America Index of Optimism survey tried to reveal lifestyle information about industry professionals in North America. For this survey, respondents were asked about their favorite music, books and treasured items (non-business related) that they never travel without.

By an overwhelming result, the top three summer songs were Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines,” followed by Florida Georgia Line’s “Cruise,” and a few mentions of Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” with Nile Rodgers.

In the results for a must-have travel item, books were, not surprisingly, the clear winner. Taking the second spot in that category was a pillow from home. Many respondents rely on this personal comfort for a better night’s sleep in a hotel as well as on long flights. Also featured strongly in the results was a photo of loved ones as a way to keep family “close” during a business trip.

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