Are Companions Welcome?

Most planners arrange for guest attendees

Association Planners
Have you tried to boost attendance by choosing places that will attract guests?

Yes: 63%
No: 37%

When a meeting is held in a desirable destination, many attendees opt to bring along a companion. To find out how often guests are accompanying meeting-goers, M&C and NTM Research conducted an online survey in late October.
    Of the 453 respondents, 89 percent plan meetings to which attendees may bring guests, and more than one third (36 percent) have seen the number of attendee guests increase over the past two years. A plurality of those polled (39 percent) believe the number of attendee guests has increased because more people are combining business trips with vacation time for economic reasons.
     Almost two thirds of the association planners polled (63 percent) say their organizations have actively tried to bolster meeting attendance by choosing destinations that are deemed attractive to guests. Seventy-three percent claim this strategy successfully increased overall attendance. 
    Most association planners (78 percent) say the involvement of guests hasn’t created any problems at meetings. Of those respondents who do cite a downside, 16 percent report exhibitors have griped about nonbuyers on the trade show floor.
    The increase in attendee guests has created more work for most meeting planners. Over the past two years, 58 percent have had to plan more spouse/guest activities, and 52 percent needed to arrange larger food and beverage functions.
    Bringing along a companion makes for happier employees, apparently. A distinct majority of corporate meeting planners say guest participation at corporate events improves morale, and a quarter of respondents plan to encourage more guest participation in the coming year.