Visitors to EIBTM 2013 show signs of a cautious revival on interest in group and incentive travel. Group and incentive travel has shown steady growth and cautious optimism for the future, which were also discussed during EIBTM Knowledge Sessions.
Mr Graeme Barnett (Senior Exhibition Director, Reed Travel Exhibitions) was quoted as saying, “… incentives are starting to come back, so obviously a lot of incentives can be tied up with the higher end hotel properties and destinations and resorts … that’s one thing I have noticed this year that there is much more an emphasis on incentives again.”
“ I think budgets are starting to be loosened just a wee bit and lead times are starting to be a little bit longer … and they are starting to think about the quality aspect again.” Mr Barnett, saw that while it appeared to still be a buyers market, it largely depended on the destination and geo-location. Quite often even within one country, there can be different levels of demand.
On the question of market recovery in the USA, Mr Barnett said, “ We have certainly seen more activity from the North Americans looking further afield now to place their international meetings. Firstly it’s about budget, and also about perception. The perception that it’s OK to go on a longer haul for a meeting or incentive”.
Mr Barnetts views were echoed by Mr Rob Davidson (Senior Lecturer in Events Management at the University of Greenwich) where he said, “The mood of our industry, as reflected in the conclusions of the vast majority of the surveys used in the compilation of this report, has changed to one of quiet optimism”. “Similarly almost all forecasts for 2014 indicate increasing levels of optimism and growth in these three sectors, albeit modest.”
Incentive travel suffered post 2009 where spending came under scrutiny along with calls for greater transperancy both in private and public sector spending. During one EIBTM Knowledge session, it was put forward that growth patterns during 2013 had seen a significant change since the global economic downturn. Advanced economies were gradually strengthening while at the same time, growth in emerging market economies was slowing.
Another theme, recovery of the corporate meetings sector, highlighted the optimism witnessed in the meetings industry is responsible for the recovery in the corporate meetings sector. Mr Davidson said, “Over the past 12 months, there have been numerous indications that companies are increasingly loosening their purse-strings and boosting their spending on corporate events,” noted Davidson.