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Meetings&Conventions in Europe

Meetings and Conventions, a well established industry in Europe continues its strong pace in 2007 with all indicators showing increase in numbers and profits. Europe leads the way in the meetings industry and convention tourism with Western Europe concentrating the biggest share of the pie but with a fast growing Eastern Europe to make a strong impression.

Traditional European meetings destinations such as Germany, France, Spain, United Kingdom and Austria remain in the top during 2007 but the strong infrastructure development which is well underway in the Eastern Countries such as Poland and especially in Russia promise to raise competitiveness in the near future.

Meetings in Europe surged demand during 2006 marking a very good year for the industry not only in numbers but also in high profile meetings as many international organizations and companies chose to hold their meeting in Europe. Industry leaders suggest that the segment will continue its upward course with 2007 predictions showing already positive results.

However, higher hotel, air and car rental prices as recent statistics from travel management companies show and a tighter availability are going to top the list with clients to be still risk averse and will book late.

Trends:

In 2006, economy played a significant role in the industry and is also expected to have a great potential impact on meetings and events in 2007 as planners and suppliers identified around the globe with travel costs and the high prices of oil and gas to follow.

However, it seems that 2007 will be different with the fear of terrorism and war to be a strong concern for the meeting planners as it tops the list in MPI’s FutureWatch for 2007.

Top trends with an impact to the global industry in 2007*:

  1. Impact of terrorism and war on business and travel
  2. Cost of oil and gas, including the impact on travel costs
  3. General inflation of costs
  4. Current or impending economic downturn or recession
  5. Current or impending economic upturn or improvement
  6. Changes or advances in technology
  7. Increasing globalization (more vendors and customers across the globe)

Top markets within Europe:

Once again this year Germany has defended its top position in Europe as a destination for meetings and conventions as it came in number one for the third time running and number two world-wide after the USA with 334 meetings during 2006, according to the new International Association Meetings Market 2006 survey of the International Congress & Convention Association (ICCA).

Germany’s good and constant position in this dynamic environment shows that we are doing the right thing and succeeding with our strategy, Lutz P. Vogt, director of the GCB German Convention Bureau e.V., judges the result.

There has been also a lot of shifting: For example, Spain, last year’s number three, has dropped to number five in the new ranking.

Within Europe, United Kingdom came in the second place with 279 meetings followed by France (269), Spain (266), Italy (209), Austria (204) and the Netherlands (187).

In the city rankings, Vienna once more came in the first position with 147 meetings followed by Paris (130), Barcelona (103), Berlin (91), Budapest (86), Prague (82), Copenhagen (69) and Lisbon (69).

Meeting Planners Behaviour:

European planners behaviour is becoming more “European concentrated” as in 2006 they planned to hold 71% of their meetings in Europe while for 2007 they predicted a 81% while North America and Asia fall in demand. In 2006, European meeting planners planned to hold 13% of their meetings in North America and 3% in Asia while in 2007 this percentage is even lower with 8% for North America and 3% in Asia.

Furthermore US planners expressed a 5% for the 2006 meetings in Europe while in 2007 they predicted a 3% and only 1% in Canada.

The good news come from Canada as the Canadian meeting planners expected to hold 2% of their 2006 meetings in Europe while in 2007 the percentage is increasing and reaching a 5%.*

But where European planners plan to hold their meeting?

City Hotels are top the list with 28%, followed by conference and university centres (20%) and convention centres (17%), resort hotels (13%), restaurants-country clubs & unique venues (9%) and airport and suburban hotels (5%).

Conference Centers and Universities showed an increase compared to 2006 while city hotels which remain in the first place dropped from last year (32%).*

*Source: MPI’s FutureWatch 2007: A Comparative Outlook on the Global Business of Meetings

Emerging markets:

Even though Western Europe is a very strong market in the meetings industry and convention tourism, the Eastern European countries are trying to be placed in the podium with Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland to already have strong meetings infrastructure followed by Baltic and Balkan countries. The most important of them all, as experts indicate, is Russia with great potential ahead but it will still take some years to create the right infrastructure basis in order to be on the same level of competitiveness with Western Europe.

Greener Industry:

There is a lot moving going on regarding the carbon emissions and the other environment related issues with the most significant associations in the industry to ask and to promote “corporate responsibility” and greener solutions. In Europe, the European Union is helping towards this direction with its Emissions Trading Scheme and promoting the idea to industry conferences that took place in Europe during 2006.

Exhibitions:

MICE Exhibitions within Europe play an important role for the industry as the recent IMEX showed with the increased number of buyers and visitors that attended the event.

As IMEX Chairman, Mr. Ray Bloom, explained, the uplift was a direct result of last year’s strategic decision to expand the show’s long-haul hosted buyer programme, with a particular emphasis on the US market.

“That decision has had a noticeable impact this year with exhibitors testifying to a substantial increase in buyer power. Being long-haul travelers, these buyers tend to stay at the show for longer. That increase in contact time means more time spent in appointments and doing business, plus more time for networking and professional education.”

Mr. Paul Kennedy MBE, Group Exhibitions Director RTE expressed his expectations for EIBTM 2007 by saying “We are building on the record attendance at EIBTM 2006 and already a large number of returning exhibitors have not only re-confirmed early but are also increasing their stand space for this year’s event taking place from 27th-29th November 2007.”

“EIBTM 2007 also welcomes new comers such as Adventure Myanmar, the first ever exhibitor representing this emerging Asian destination along with Munich and Marketing Birmingham, both exhibiting as main stand holders for the first time. Hyatt Hotels and Resorts are also returning back this year with a space twice the size of their participation at any previous EIBTM.

The floor plan for EIBTM 2007 will see improvements to benefit exhibitors, Hosted Buyers and visitors while continuing to deliver the best business opportunities for all. For the first time there will be a dedicated Mediterranean area within the Europe section grouping together the countries representing this increasingly popular geographical region. The area will also include a third Hosted Buyer lounge to provide a relaxed setting for the expected 10% increase in Hosted Buyer attendance.

Reflecting the increasing demand for stand space and year-on-year growth of the MPI Technology Village @ EIBTM and Events Services Village, these specialist exhibitor areas, have been relocated alongside the new Mediterranean area. Coupled with the internet café and Spa & Wellbeing area this section of the floorplan is set to inspire strong visitor interest in 2007.”

Co-Founder & Managing Director - Travel Media Applications | Website

Theodore is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of TravelDailyNews Media Network; his responsibilities include business development and planning for TravelDailyNews long-term opportunities.

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