Meeting News - March 1, 2010 - (Page 24)

MeetingNews Research Meeting Budget Cutbacks Easing continued from page 1 shared by hoteliers, industry associ- we did a mandate of a reduction of ations, corporate travel buyers and 30 percent of meetings, but this year meetings planners. Despite opti- we’re flat,” Chevalier said.“A lot of it mism, it remains to be seen whether is you can only go so long without a rekindling of meetings spending some of these meetings. It’s shortwould fuel a full-on recovery. term. We’re not going to go back to “We’re not out of the woods yet,” normal levels, to where we were the said Maritz Travel Co. president and year before, because it will be flat CEO Christine Duffy. “I think peo- this year, but what we’re seeing is ple are still being pretty cautious and are really taking it quarter by quarSpending Declines Hit Bottom In Past Six Months ter based on earnings and budgets Change in organizational meetings expenditure, past six months vs. preceding six months being approved, which has not happened in one fell swoop.” A recent survey of corporate travel buyers gave a very similar outlook 44% Stayed the same 40% on meetings expenditures for 2010, Decreased as 35 percent of the 26 buyers sur17% veyed for the Masters Program in Increased Washington, D.C., in February said their companies’ meetings spending Note: Due to rounding, numbers do not add up to 100 percent. would be higher than 2009 levels, Source: MeetingNews survey of 220 association, corporate and independent meeting planners while 50 percent said such spending would remain flat. Both surveys where we cut back on the internal “We’re still looking for strong show a positive direction for meet- meetings, we’re going back up on attendance. The concern is sponsorings spending, but some attendees the external meetings.” ship and exhibitor participation. said improvement does not mean Some organizations have been Even those that are participating, recovery, considering the deep raising their investment in meetings they’re sending fewer representadecline of meetings activity and all along, including the 17 percent of tives. That affects the bottom line.” spending in 2009. respondents claiming growth in The MeetingNews survey shows ExxonMobil global travel meetings spend in the past that while 40 percent of respondents manager Vivian Wu six months.“Our meetings decreased meetings spending in the MN attributed some of those are going up,” said Trish past six months, only 19 percent Research increases in the industry Rothman, travel manager plan to do so in the next six. to “pent-up demand,” at William Blair & Co.“We “We have heard that things are claiming, “If you’re down 20 haven’t stayed flat for quite a looking up for 2010 and planners or 30 or 40 percent in meetings, few years because it’s important for are optimistic,” said Convention then guess what: You’ve only got up our clients and our business.” Industry Council COO Karen to go.” Still, 51 percent expect meetings Kotowski. “I haven’t heard it Maria Chevalier, manager of trav- spending to remain flat in the next expressed in expenditures so much el services for Johnson & Johnson, six months. Lora Di Padova-Tan- as expectations for attendance, and said her company like many others nehill, director of scientific meetings those seem to be on the upswing.” slashed meetings expenditures in at the American Society of NeuroraStarwood Hotels & Resorts 2009, but customer-facing travel is diology, falls into that category.“Our Worldwide said group business going back up this year. “Last year, budget cycle is July 1 through June gathered steam toward the end of 24 MeetingNews March 1, 2010 30, so we kind of went through the budget cycle for our meetings last year. We went in with fewer expenses in our 2009-2010 budget. We were counting on less sponsorship, exhibitors and attendees.” Di Padova-Tannehill was optimistic about some indicators for the association’s big meeting in May, but was not expecting a full bounceback this year, particularly for medical meetings, which carry their own set of challenges and regulations. 2009, compared with the steep declines witnessed in the fourth quarter of 2008 (see story, page 6). “Last year at this time, our group business was heading downhill fast, but now we are seeing a few positive trends,” said CFO Vasant Prabhu in February. He said cancellations in the fourth quarter were down 50 percent, while “bookings into 2010 were up over 50 percent and bookings in the first half of 2010 were up over 100 percent,” he said. “In addition, businesses have started to confirm meetings that had been put on hold. Corporate rate negotiations are ending better than we might have expected a few months ago. We’re hearing from our corporate customers that cuts in travel are behind them. Companies want their people back on the road, drumming up business and motivating their teams.” Prabhu warned, however, that “group business always lags” other segments in recovery. Though he expected an improving year for groups, he said he was hardly expecting a “robust” year. Marriott detailed similar trends as it reported its fourth-quarter and full-year results in February.“While relative, corporate demand is picking up, cancellations are running again at normal levels, and our 2010 group bookings continue to build,” said president Arne Sorenson. “In December, new group bookings for any time in the future were both higher than the prior year and ahead of our expectations.” CFO Carl Berquist said group business continues to lag. At fullservice Marriotts, occupancy traditionally is around 40 percent of overall room nights.“Right now, it’s running probably around 37 percent,” Berquist said. ❍

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Meeting News - March 1, 2010

Meeting News - March 1, 2010
Meetings Spotlight
Event Profile
Meeting People
Travel Dashboard
Construction Cites
MeetingNews Research
Citywide Meetings
Dateline: Florida
Mid-America Regional
Dateline: Tennessee

Meeting News - March 1, 2010