by Sarah J.F. Braley | August 01, 2008

chartEvery two years, the call goes out to planners around the United States to tell Meetings & Conventions everything they know about the events they arrange: how many meetings they plan, how much money they spend, who attends, where they go and more. Our readers have been answering that call since 1974, helping M&C compile the Meetings Market Report, the pre-eminent statistical view of events held by U.S.-based organizations.

This year’s report, which analyzes figures for meetings held in 2007, shows that both the number of meetings and number of attendees were up compared with two years ago, while the total expenditures on events declined slightly. Nearly $103 billion was spent last year, down about 4 percent from 2005. Corporate meetings accounted for $30.2 billion, down 5 percent from two years ago. Quite a bit less was spent on association meetings other than conventions, which fell 9 percent to $38.1 billion in 2007. Convention spending was the bright spot, rising 3 percent to $34.6 billion in 2007.

The total number of meetings held was up across the board. Corporate events rose 6 percent to almost 1.1 million events; association meetings increased by 8 percent to 227,000 events; and 13,700 conventions were held in 2007, 1,000 more than in 2005 -- a rise of 8 percent.

The number of attendees grew for both corporate meetings (up 5 percent to 84 million people) and conventions (up 4 percent to almost 20 million), while attendance at other association meetings declined slightly, by 1 percent, to about 37.5 million.

chartHighlighting the results

Here’s a quick look at some of the other notable findings in the 2008 Meetings Market Report.

* The average annual expenditure for corporate meetings rose about 1.5 percent, from $536,000 in 2005 to $543,900 in 2007. The average annual expenditure by associations on conventions fell from $465,000 in 2005 to $306,200 in 2007. Associations spent a little more on their other meetings, rising from an annual average of $137,000 in 2005 to $166,100 in 2007.

* In the corporate world, 18 percent of respondents’ meetings included the guests of attendees. Similarly, on the association side, planners reported that 18 percent of their delegates were accompanied by guests for both conventions and other association meetings.

* More planners were using video- and webconferencing, but those events do not necessarily replace face-to-face meetings. On the corporate side, 40 percent of the respondents conducted these events, up from 32 percent in 2005; 22 percent of the association planners surveyed used video- and webconferencing, up from 20 percent two years earlier. Just 24 percent of corporate planners and 9 percent of association planners said video and web events replaced face-to-face meetings.

* Women still dominate the planning business, accounting for 72 percent of corporate planners and 75 percent of association planners surveyed.

* This year, to reflect how the “green” wave has taken over the meetings industry, we asked planners about their recycling and other conservation tactics. About a third of both groups make sure all their conference materials are printed on recycled paper. Surprisingly, in this climate, 33 percent of the corporate respondents and 21 percent of their association colleagues don’t know if recycled paper is being used.

chartThe methodology

M&C’s Meetings Market Report has been conducted every two years since 1974. The online survey went live in March, and the results were analyzed by CIC Research Inc. in San Diego.

Completing the survey were 684 subscribers (447 corporate and 237 association planners). The total number of meetings planned, total number of attendees and total expenditures were calculated to represent the 55,452 corporate and 14,643 association readers that make up M&C’s subscriber base. (In 2006, the calculations were based on 57,066 corporate and 13,017 association subscribers.)

The rest of our cover story examines corporate meetings, association meetings and conventions, incentive planning, green meetings and the demographics of the corporate and association planners who answered the survey.

The complete 2008 Meetings Market Report is available for $450. To purchase the full report, please visit us online here. Back copies dating to the 2000 Meetings Market Report may be ordered online as well, for $100 each.