2011 ONWARDSDan Rivlin, MD of internationalorganiser Kenes InternationalOur industry is undergoing quickchanges, which will turn us into one of themore competitive industries. While we donot feel these obvious changes, I believethat we will see in the near future muchmore competiveness. The competition willspread from price to value and will forcecompanies to develop or obtaincapabilities in areas such as media andnew media, consultancy, strategicplanning, fund raising and legal issues. Professional conference organisers, a veryoutdated term by itself, will take vertical andhorizontal integrations in order to becomebigger and more diversified. This will be theonly way to survive. Therefore, we are likely to see additionalspread of the bigger ones, similar expansionsfrom mid-size companies and diversificationinto new areas. Kenes is planning to increaseits staffing for 2011 with our figures showingan anticipated increase of 30 per cent over2010. The world is moving into a morecompetitive environment than ever before. Ifwe translate it into price only, we are likely tomiss the point. It is also about cost, as ourclients are likely to look into increasing theirown profits (or at least maintain similar profitlevels), but it is mostly about value and this isthe real story. We will need to develop newexpertise for clients in order to help themand us survive."Des McLaughlin, MD of VenueProcurement at Grass RootsI predicted last year that we woulddiversify our business mix and we won twomajor accounts in new business sectors.We saw growth of 20 per cent year-on-year, exceeding our target and forwardbusiness for 2011 is continuing the trend.We also launched our New York office inApril, which has performed really well. I was also more optimistic than most aboutan upturn in meetings and events for 2010and again this has proved true. We expectclients' meetings business to continue toshow steady controlled growth and will addto this through acquiring new accounts. Wewill continue to grow globally, taking a 'huband spoke' approach. Our next officeopening is in Singapore in January 2011. I think the last two years have made us takestock of what differentiates Grass Roots fromour competitors and focus on developingthese areas. If you don't know what yourunique selling points are then it will simplycome down to who is the cheapest."Geoff Fenlon, General Managerof The ICC Birmingham, UKFor The ICC Birmingham, 2010 was asignificant improvement compared to theprevious calendar year. Particularly webegan to see the returning prominence ofthe corporate market, with big businessesonce again holding big events.The industry may further contract in 2011and onwards, as over-capacity and publicspending cuts squeeze smaller and largervenues alike. Venues will be under pressureto provide return-on-investment forcustomers. They must deliver, or they willlose the business. In terms of our clients, we expect thecorporate market to continue to improvebut only in certain sectors, such as financialservices and automotive. The associationmarket will remain strong. Delegates willlook to get more out of their time atconferences, making the most of theopportunity that they provide to network."Jonny Sullens, Portfolio Directorfor International Confex, UBM LiveDuncan Reid, the former PortfolioDirector, was pretty near the mark lasttime out and the challenge for us ispredicting a year when our product sitssolidly in the first quarter. A good industrytradeshow should be a benchmark for howthe industry is doing and InternationalConfex is no different. The cuts to regionalLooking forwardLast year threw the international meetings industry a few curve balls with new venues launched,companies going into liquidation and the fall of corporate meetings. Sarah O'Donnellasks a selection of industry leaders what they see in 2011's crystal ball. 'If you don't know whatyour unique sellingpoints are then it willsimply come down towho is the cheapest'12www.c-mw.netConference+Meetings WorldJanuary 2011Dan RivlinDes McLaughlinGeoff FenlonJonny Sullens
January 2011Conference+Meetings World www.c-mw.net132011 ONWARDSdevelopment agencies in the UK willimpact, as will the business from localauthorities and government. That said, theprivate sector is in a better place and whileit is right to countenance measures ofausterity there isn't the blanket ban onforeign travel, event spend and corporatehospitality there was in 2009. By following the industry trends, we arehopefully well placed to deliver great resultsfor all those organisations that supportConfex. The launch of and investment inthese initiatives made us competitive in2010/11, and by building on them we wantto grow Confex throughout the year."Juliet Price, Head of Marketingat Hotelzon and new chair of theUK Hotel Booking AgentsAssociationFor 2010, Hotelzon was predicting atough year and the first half was certainlyas anticipated, though we did see anincrease in the number of meetings heldfrom 2009. We have experienced higherforward demand, especially with overseasbookings, which had disappeared last year.There has been growing confidence fromthe private sector, however always with aview to keeping costs reined in. Next year we anticipate a modest overallincrease in average daily rate and fairly staticvolumes, especially in the first half of theyear. Further consolidation around meetingspend and greater support of travel policies,will be high on the agenda for our accountmanagement reviews.With markets as they are, and with manypotential customers on a merry-go-round ofconsidering switching from one-stop-shopping with TMCs to best of breed andback again, we hope to see a growth."Ruth Carter, Chief Executive ofUBM ConferencesThe world of conferences has certainlypicked up more quickly than I hadexpected. I thought we would still be inpain until the end of the year but the greenshoots have continued to grow. One thing Ihadn't anticipated was the problems withrecruitment. Finding the right people, withthe right background and the right passionhas been incredibly challenging.There hasn't been an improvement acrossthe board but rather some segments haveperformed better than expected. There arestill market sectors in a lot of pain.I think the challenge will come from twoareas: firstly staffing and, secondly, a moreinternational focus from our customers andclients. The UK is a resilient economy but so manyof our customers are looking into Asia orSouth America that we will all need to dealwith that change. We've seen steady growthin Europe and the US but strong in India,China and South America."Trevor Elswood, Group ManagingDirector of BSI Demand has increased in the meetingssector and there has certainly been anincreased focus on new technology andstrategic procurement approaches fromthose responsible for this spend category.We've witnessed the increase in onlineadoption levels, with internal meetingsspace bookings rising. Technology has certainly taken the strainand allowed us to absorb the growth,keeping the pressures that it brings undercontrol. It has also provided us with theopportunity to increase the speed of servicedelivery, and to penetrate new markets. In the agency market place, we willcontinue to see a shift in market sharetowards the bigger players as corporategovernance dictates that large corporateorganisations look to the larger agencies todeliver economic efficiency throughprocurement, compliance and cost control. There comes a point where you can'tfeasibly reduce costs of service any further,but this is where strategic value becomes theessential differentiator, effectively examiningand addressing customer expenditure toremove and reduce their direct costs." Martin Sirk, CEO of theInternational Congress andConvention Association:In the last article I professed my faith inthe resilience of the internationalassociation meetings sector, and 2010 hasproved that to be correct. Associationsmay be under financial pressure in theirsponsorship and exhibitions, but theirattendances are robust and new eventsare constantly being created, especiallyamongst regional associations (worldcongresses are definitely under morepressure). As before, almost no cancellations andpostponements are being reported. ICCAhas done well off the back of this resilience,and we expect to report record levels ofmembership recruitment by the year's end. In many established European destinationsone of the biggest worries relates togovernment cutbacks and the respectivemeetings. Most countries in Asia Pacific are booming,with fewer cutbacks, and with capitalinvestment still running at historically highlevels. Corporate meetings are on the comebacktrail, albeit with the usual traits that we seeat the tail-end of every downturn, such asreluctance to commit early, insistence onlooser contractual conditions, price pressure,and cutting out the frills."Juliet PriceRuth CarterTrevor ElswoodMartin Sirk'The UK is a resilienteconomy, but so manyof our customers arelooking into Asia orSouth America'