It's been a tumultuous couple of years for the meetings industry, but optimism is on the uptick, and predictions for 2012 put the industry back on track, although not quite to levels seen three years ago.
To get a grasp on what's really going on in the meetings trenches, travel research company PhoCusWright, with the support of M&C and other industry partners, surveyed 629 corporate planners to compile its new report, Groups and Meetings: Driving Success in Business Travel's Most Complex Segment.
Overall, the Sherman, Conn.-based company found that corporations spent a total of $54.3 billion on meetings in 2009, down almost 30 percent from 2008. Meetings spend was split almost evenly between travel and nontravel costs, with food and beverage, hotel and air representing more than two-thirds of expenses. Travel spend -- including air, lodging, car rental and ground transportation -- fell 29 percent in 2009, to $27.9 billion.
While recovery for this year has been running at about 4 percent, PhoCusWright expects growth to accelerate and reach double digits by 2012, when travel spend will be more than $35 billion, although that number still is short of 2006-2008 levels.