Black Meetings and Tourism

JAN/FEB 2012

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IMEX AMERICA RELEASES 2012 PREDICTIONS FOR US AND GLOBAL EVENTS MARKET 1. Business is looking up – globalization is increasing In post-show survey comments buy- ers indicated an uptick in business over the last 12 months — though predomi- nantly at a conservative rate and mostly short-termfocused.There is also a trend towards more - but smaller or shorter - meetings and events and slight growth in attendance at association meetings and events. Anecdotal survey comments also suggest that interest from the corporate sector is returning and that demand for incentive travel is on the rise again. Increased globalization in terms of plan- ning and destination choice also came through in the survey. It was apparent at IMEX America that the definition of a "new" or "emerging" destination is broadening and increasingly dependent on a given buyer's own location and experience.One buyer's"emergingmar- ket" will be another's "long-time favorite" and, as globalization increases, so does buyer awareness of the full size and scope of the worldmarket, especial- ly outside of theUS. 2.Value is king – doingmore with less is the 'new norm' With continued economic pressures in many world markets, the strong push for "added value" from buyers over the next 12+monthswill remain—absent of increases in most budgets or timelines. Convention centers and some hotels are leading the way with value-adds such as free wi-fi or green meeting consultancy services. Organizations are also being asked to provide as much free knowl- edge and education content as possible. Further, while industry growth is, of course, a very welcome development, many survey respondents noted that they are feeling the squeeze by having to do more work with fewer staff, and against ever-tightening turnaround times.This will likely not change in 2012. 3.Green supply chain analysis and 'responsible business' on the rise 'Green supply-chain analysis' and 'responsible business' were growing trends identified and discussed by experts at the IMEX America Sustainability Center (a show floor area devoted to green and CSR education and best practices.) Multinationals such as Proctor & Gamble andWalmart are leading the way in developing supplier rankings, and in our industry, partners are increasingly being given or offered incentives to reuse and recycle goods, products and materials. Expect to see more companies, networks and alliances emerge that make it easier for organiza- tions to work together to achieve their green or CSR goals. Streamlining of green practices, benchmarks and certifi- cations will also start to occur as knowl- edge and experience expands. 4. SocialMedia continues itsmeteoric rise In post-IMEX America surveys, 87.5% of hosted buyers reported using LinkedIn for business,with Facebook at 70.8%,Twitter at 50%, andYouTube at 22.4%. Perhaps most importantly, 42.5% agreed or strongly agreed that the use of social media is helping them generate business. Buyers also reported a 50%+ increase in usage of social media in the past sixmonths. 5. Education is hot and technology is fanning the flames One of the biggest trends—especially among associations—is the need to cap- ture and leverage education content both during and after live events to extend the reach and benefit to atten- dees and members. Driven by a never- ending surge of internet, smartphone, and tablet use there has been a breath- taking and widespread desire for high quality, easily accessible knowledge- sharing and education 'on-demand'. This shift has meant that many in the industry have become both publishers and education-providers—particularly in the socialmedia realm.This trend will only continue to grow.Also expect to see meetings and events industry education being delivered in increasingly entertain- ing, interactive and diverse ways includ- ing an increasing cross-over of gaming technology or "gamification." 6.Quantifyingmeetings market impact is amust Another trend crucial to the long- term health and success of the meetings industry is the ability to quantify and transparently communicate its economic value to a given country, region or city. The US led the way with its 2009 Economic Impact Study.Mexico recent- ly announced results of its own. Stay tuned for many more destinations to announce their intention to conduct sim- ilar research studies, which, in turn, will become increasingly important tools for political advocacy. Black Meetings & Tourism January/February 2012: 53

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