For the ninth consecutive year, M&C takes an
in-depth look at the business of planning meetings, conventions, trade
shows, incentive programs and other events outside the United States.
Our survey of 126 meeting professionals, 83 of whom work for
corporations and 43 for associations, reveals where U.S. groups met in
2011 and the top international destinations for both meetings and
incentives this year and next year. Among other topics addressed: what
planners look for when choosing international destinations, the types of
events they plan, the types of suppliers and services they use, and
TOP SPOTS: 2011Europe was
the top international destination for U.S. groups last year, according
to 60 percent of those polled. Canada was the second-most popular spot
for international meetings, according to 54 percent of respondents,
followed by Mexico with 40 percent. Rounding out the list were Asia (38
percent), followed by Caribbean/Bermuda (32 percent), Central/South
America (26 percent), Australia/New Zealand (17 percent), Middle East
(15 percent) and Africa (8 percent).
CURRENT PICKS: 2012 This
year, Europe retains the top spot for meetings held outside the U.S.,
according to 59 percent of respondents, who will hold meetings there.
The next most popular regions are Asia and Canada, each cited by 39
percent of those polled, followed by the Caribbean/Bermuda (30 percent),
Central/South America (26 percent), Mexico (26 percent), Middle East
(15 percent), Australia/New Zealand (12 percent) and Africa (2 percent).
Two percent of respondents will not hold any international meetings in
THE YEAR AHEAD: 2013 Next year,
Europe should hold its top spot for 58 percent of planners surveyed.
Canada again will rank second (42 percent will hold events there),
followed closely by Asia (41 percent). Next most popular for 2013 will
be Mexico (31 percent), Caribbean/Bermuda (30 percent), Central/South
America (30 percent), Mexico (30 percent), Australia/New Zealand (15
percent), Middle East (13 percent) and Africa (10 percent). Just 3
percent of respondents don't plan to hold meetings outside the U.S. in
EVENTS AT A GLANCE• Type of meeting.
Among types of meetings corporate planners hold outside the U.S. are
general meetings (74 percent), incentive trips (52 percent), board
meetings (35 percent), trade shows (28 percent) and product launches (22
percent). For association planners, 72 percent take their annual
meetings to international destinations, followed by board meetings (55
percent), trade shows/conventions (50 percent) and chapter meetings (30
• Number of meetings. Most respondents (59
percent) typically plan one to five meetings annually; 16 percent plan
six to 10; 11 percent plan more than 20; 7 percent plan 11 to 15, and 2
percent plan 6 to 20.
Compared with 2011, 36 percent expect the
number of international meetings their companies will hold in 2012 to
increase, 56 percent will hold the same number of meetings and just 8
percent said the number of global meetings will decrease.
ahead, 32 percent of respondents will hold more meetings outside the
U.S. next year compared with 2012, 64 percent foresee no change and only
4 percent expect the number to decrease year-over-year.
• Size of groups.
More than half (54 percent) said their group size for international
events will stay the same this year compared with 2011, 21 percent said
the number will increase and for 8 percent it will decrease; 17 percent
• Duration of events. The majority of
respondents (56 percent) said their last international meeting ran three
to four days, while 22 percent met for five days or more, and 22
percent gathered for two days or fewer.
What matters to planners when they evaluate international destinations?
Top criteria are quality of accommodations (cited by 73 percent of
survey respondents), closely followed by good airlift (71 percent),
reputation of the destination (68 percent) and security (62 percent).BUDGET MATTERS
LAST WORD With
all the legwork planners do to build a short list of destinations and
venues, who has final say over the choices made for international
meetings? For corporate meetings, the majority of those polled (46
percent) said the choice ultimately is finalized by the CEO or other
top-level executive, followed by a team of planner and third party (22
percent), the planning department (8 percent), the director of
marketing or sales
(5 percent), the travel manager/director (4 percent) and the procurement department (1 percent).
the association planners surveyed, 32 percent said the CEO or other
top-level executive has the last word in international site selection,
followed by the board and a team of planner and third party (each with
16 percent), the planning department (13 percent) and the meeting
chairperson (10 percent).
According to a quarter of those polled, the budget for their last
international meeting was in the range of $150,000-$499,999. In
• 17 percent reported having budgets of $10,000 to $49,999;
• 14 percent spent $50,000-$99,999;
• 9 percent had budgets of $1 million or more, and
• 6 percent had budgets of less than $10,000.
their next international event, planners reported generally similar
budgets, with 26 percent citing funds of $150,000-$499,999 and 18
percent in the $50,000-$99,999 range. In addition:
• 14 percent reported budgets of $500,000-$999,000;
• 13 percent have budgets of $10,000-$49,999;
• 12 percent reported budgets of $100,000-$149,000;
• 10 percent have budgets of less than $10,000 for their next international meeting, and
• 7 percent fall into the $1 million or more category.
Obtaining promotional materials (brochures, CDs, maps) remains the top
reason planners use convention and visitor bureaus and national tourism
organizations, cited by 44 percent of respondents, followed by setting
up site inspections (40 percent), restaurant recommendations (37
percent), pre/post-event tour suggestions (34 percent), theme party
ideas (33 percent) and availability of meeting planning guides (30
E-mail is the best way for international suppliers to
reach planners, according to 84 percent of those polled, followed by fam
trips (45 percent), Internet/other resources (43 percent), trade
shows/networking events (38 percent), direct mail (23 percent) and a
phone call (10 percent). Just 1 percent of planners favor receiving a
fax from global suppliers.BEDS ABROAD
When it comes to selecting accommodations for their attendees, 44
percent of those polled bring groups to upscale hotels. Others use
luxury properties (22 percent) or midscale (14 percent). Another 20
percent of respondents use a combination of the above. None of the
respondents used budget properties for their international events this
Interestingly, in M&C'
s 2011 survey, just 11 percent of respondents said they used luxury properties for their meetings outside the U.S.
surprisingly, 80 percent of those polled said a guaranteed price for
hotels or services in U.S. dollars makes an international destination
appealing to their organizations.
is good for incentive programs: More than 80 percent of planners who
hold motivational events will do so outside the U.S. in 2012 or 2013,
the highest such number since the recession began in 2008, with fewer
than 20 percent still staying close to home.
As projected in our
2011 survey, the Caribbean/Bermuda is indeed the top destination by far
for incentive programs in 2012, as cited by 62 percent of respondents.
Europe takes second place, per 38 percent of those polled. This year,
for the first time, we've separated Mexico (in third place per 31
percent of respondents) and Canada (chosen by 22 percent), which are
followed by Central/South America (11 percent), Asia (7 percent),
Australia/New Zealand and the Middle East (each with 2 percent).
2013, the Caribbean/Bermuda will retain its top spot per 56 percent of
those polled, followed by Europe (rising to 49 percent), Mexico (33
percent), Canada (24 percent), Central/South America (11 percent), Asia
(11 percent), Africa (4 percent) and Australia/New Zealand (2 percent).
for the size of incentive groups in 2012, the number is unchanged since
last year for 40 percent of those polled; 29 percent will see an
increase in participants, 9 percent anticipate a decrease and 22 percent
tourist offices, convention bureaus and other destination management
organizations offer assistance to planners, but nearly half of those
surveyed use such resources "infrequently" (association planners were
more likely to use them their corporate counterparts). Another 28
percent use them often, 13 percent always use them and 11 percent never
use such agencies.
Interestingly, for 63 percent of planners,
having a personal relationship with an international supplier (hotelier,
destination management executive) influences their destination
decisions; another 22 percent say such connections matter very little,
and 10 percent say they have no effect.
More than half (55
percent) of respondents prefer to work with both the U.S. and
international branch of a tourist office or convention bureau, while 26
percent favor working only with U.S.-based representatives and 19
percent prefer dealing solely with the overseas office.
remains the most pressing concern for the meeting professionals
queried; about one third (35 percent) say it significantly influences
their plans concerning international meetings or incentives.
key considerations affecting plans include the U.S./global economy,
according to 30 percent of respondents; local health concerns (28
percent); natural disasters (24 percent); public and/or media
perceptions of meetings and events (20 percent), and international
currency exchange rates (15 percent).