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Mice Net : February 2009
news upbeat at eibtm M story by ElizabEth Rich Barcelona banter • Although business appears to be still out there for the taking, there was general agreement that 2009 will swing back to a buyers’ market, budgets will be tighter, and lead times even shorter. One leading venue agency reported average lead times have been dropping from nine months down to four or five months, and more recently to one or two months. • A drop in F&B spend is anticipated, shorter length meetings, and more local meetings rather than larger regional ones. An audience response in one session confirmed what we all suspected: the biggest challenge of 2009 will be budgets. • Company changes, mergers, even cutbacks means the need to communicate within organisations and with customers, so face-to- face contact remains important. Conversely, EIBTM’s Market Report points out that “if companies find it difficult to get credit, the volume of their meetings could shrink, since many such events are created in order to discuss new business project”. • Essential events will hang in there, non-essentials will not. One experienced UK operator guessed 2009 would be down 20 per cent 10 mice.net It sounds odd that when the world is reeling from a financial crisis never experienced before in most people’s lifetime the mood in Barcelona last december was surprisingly upbeat. aybe the full effect of the economic tsumani has yet to hit the shores of the events industry, but nobody was tearing their hair out or slashing their wrists at the annual trade show EIBTM. Indeed, far from it. One leading European convention bureau claimed it had already more written more business for 2009 than 2008. A speaker from a German event company boasted of expansion on the back of a great 2008, with more global offices opening in 2009. And he was not alone with such talk. Yet we are seeing some of the world’s largest economies go into recession and thousands of people being laid off. So what really is the mood of the market? on 2008, but pointed out that this would be coming off a very strong few years. An Indian organiser agreed, saying perhaps we would be returning to a norm after an inflated high. • Delays of confirmations are anticipated, and tougher negotiations, especially on cancellation and attrition clauses will be the norm. Suppliers need to stick close to their clients and work on creative, flexible solutions. • Some general comments claimed that there would be reductions in permanent staff and an increase in freelancers in the industry as companies made adjustments which allowed more cost flexibility. • Expect to see more stimulus packages coming from governments trying to shore up their industry sectors (if there is anything left in the barrel after all the other sector bailouts). • The strong players can smell opportunities, and intend to trade through this difficult period and come out the other end even stronger, with less competition around them. Expect to see some weaker operators fall by the wayside. Perhaps there was even a whiff of smug confidence in some quarters. • There was much talk about confidence and maintaining a positive outlook. In other words, don’t frighten the horses. • EIBTM speaker tip – check out the website www.thegeniusworks. com/ for an interesting look at what will be big in 2009, and 50 strategies for winning in tough times. • CSR is becoming the industry’s most misused acronym, being incorrectly used as the new substitute for “green”. And who really understands “sustainability”? The “Greens” seem to have commandeered both terms which go way beyond the environmental borders. • Perhaps the whole CSR/green/sustainability thing has peaked? Which is not to say it isn’t important, but many seem to be tiring of the emphasis. Green fatigue may be setting in. Others think it is simply being absorbed as a “hygiene” factor, another term getting a lot of use. Some are cynical of the commerciality of the green debate.