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by Allen J. Sheinman | June 16, 2010

The outlook for the meetings industry is improving, according the Meeting Planners Intentions Survey (2010), commissioned by PCMA, the PCMA Education Foundation and American Express, conducted by Ypartnership and released yesterday. The survey was designed to measure the impact of the current economic and media environment on the booking intentions of meeting planners in 2010-2011, compared to a similar study conducted in 2009. Among the findings, respondents reported a 15 percent increase in the number of meetings being planned this year vs. last, with another 24 percent jump over '09 expected in 2011; attendance was expected to increase 23 percent this year and 38 percent in 2011, vs. '09. In addition, 89 percent of respondents are not planning to cancel, postpone or rebook any meetings they had already planned for this and next year, vs. 54 percent in 2009; and, while those polled in 2009 expected to pay an average $81,000 in cancellation fees that year, the figure dropped to $7,600 for 2010 and just $3,500 for 2011. Among types of hotels sought by meeting planners, the midscale segment shows an anticipated increase of 25 percent for 2010-'11 and upscale should grow by 1 percent, while the upper-upscale category will slip by 19 percent and luxury by 24 percent vs. 2009. Survey respondents totaled 505 meeting professionals in North America, 56 percent of them association and 44 percent corporate, incentive and independent planners. "While it's been a difficult 18 months for our industry, I'm encouraged to see both actual business as well as business sentiment improving," said Deborah Sexton, PCMA president and CEO, in a statement. "There continues to be caution in budgets and cost controls, which is to be expected, but if we can stay on this positive trend path, there are certainly brighter days ahead for meetings." For more details, visit www.pcma.org.