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May 2010Conference+ Meetings World31 meetings market, most European manufacturers expect to cut jobs over the next 12 months, with the heaviest losses predicted in France and the Netherlands. By contrast, the gradual disappearance of regulatory and political obstacles have paved the way for consolidation in the financial services sector, as companies look to reduce costs and increase revenues. Having been shored up with public funds during 2009, this sector's meetings activity is still likely to be scrutinised for signs of excessive spending. Europe's IT sector is also predicted to bounce back by the end of 2010, with the European Information Technology Observatory estimating its value will break the ? 300m barrier, which is also likely to lead to increased spending on meetings and events. Rates drop across the board Meeting rates fell in 2009 for the second year running in most European cities and fell faster in Europe's four- star hotels than in their five- star counterparts. Grass Roots' survey of rates in each major city shows that the greatest drops in 2009 four- star Day Delegate Rates ( DDR) came in Milan ( 27%), Berlin ( 25%) and Barcelona ( 22%). Biggest predicted falls for 2010 DDR come in Budapest (- 6%), Madrid (- 6%), and Athens (- 5%). In the five- star category the biggest downturns in 2009 were seen in Berlin (- 17%), Vienna (- 16%) and Milan (- 13%). Accommodation rates Global revenue per available room ( revPAR) declined by over 15 per cent in the year to June 2009, according to Deloitte, and Europe was the most affected region in the world, where it fell by 31 per cent. The strength of the euro currency, however, kept the fall to 20 per cent, however. The worst affected cities in Europe ( in local currency) were Düsseldorf (- 41%), Madrid (- 32%) and Moscow (- 30%). Average 2009 hotel room rates saw Moscow rates drop from ? 281 to ? 197, and Barcelona from ? 120 to ? 95. Rates fell in every major European city, the best performance being the smaller 6 per cent reductions recorded in Helsinki, Cologne and Cardiff. The strongest occupancy in Europe was in London, at 77.1 per cent. At the turn of the year, European hotel prices were eight per cent lower, on average, than 12 months earlier, according to Triago. Meeting trends Grass Roots' clients surveyed have purchasing responsibility for meetings and events in the UK, across EMEA and in 31 per cent of cases, worldwide. The findings are therefore far- reaching. Chain- owned hotels and internal space increased their share of corporate bookings at the expense of independent hotels and specialist conference and training centres, as more organisations consolidated venues through a strategic managed meetings programme in 2009. Fifty eight per cent confirmed they would be making greater use of internal space in 2010, despite half not having any systems in place to do so. Procurement's increasing control of meetings and events is borne out by the fact that 77 per cent of Grass Roots clients already operate, or plan to introduce policies governing event management. Research shows that 84 per cent of clients now operate transient accommodation programmes and 77 per cent of clients have a venue sourcing programme in place as well. Over four out of 10 of Grass Roots' own clients expect their budgets to fall; just 16 per cent anticipating the reverse. The greatest predicted fall is in spend- per-meeting, supporting the view that buyers and planners alike are expected to wring yet more value out of diminished spend. There is a feeling that many planners are not helping themselves to justify meetings spend through not applying measurement tools consistently. Significantly, as many buyers ( 20%) expect the number of overseas meetings they hold in 2010 to rise, as those expecting volumes to fall. Event marketing Research carried out by Meetings Professionals International ( MPI) during 2009 once again showed that meetings and events provide the highest ROI. Twenty-three per cent of the MPI respondents choose events as the marketing discipline that provides the greatest ROI, followed by public relations 19 per cent. The value of measurement tools was also underlined in this research. Among Western European respondents, companies that measure ROI are over 2.5 times more likely to receive increases in their marketing budget than those that do not measure, while 62 per cent of respondents stated that they engage in some form of post- event measurement, with 38 per cent measuring marketing ROI. Individual European country analysis is available in the Grass Roots Meetings Industry Report 2010 4th edition. Available at £ 95 from: eventcom@ grg. com ' Meeting rates fell in 2009 for the second year running in most European cities.' GRASS ROOTS