Results from the latest IMEX America Index of Optimism suggest that North American buyers and suppliers remain firmly optimistic about future business prospects despite having to face up to continued economic challenges.
Just over 312 buyers and suppliers responded to the survey, which was undertaken by the IMEX Group in July. (Total respondents: 312. Buyers – 73%; Suppliers – 27%).
When asked if they are currently feeling “more or less optimistic about the meetings industry than a year ago,” 76% agreed they are more optimistic. This compares to a slighter larger majority of 79% in February 2012 (albeit with fewer answering this specific question – February 2012: 146 compared to July 2012: 195). Last year just 66% (155 respondents) felt more optimistic than 12 months before. Further survey data in the final quarter are likely to show whether this is a sound upward trend or a short-term reaction.
84% REPORT UPTICK IN NEW BUSINESS SOURCES IN LAST 6 MONTHS
A strong majority of 84% of respondents also revealed they had attracted new sources of business in the last six months, suggesting that signs of growth are starting to show through in a more reliable way, especially when compared to 12 months ago when just 73% felt that business was picking up. 11% said they hadn’t increased business levels, and the remaining 5% declared “don’t know.” Asked to compare their current situation with the previous 6-month period, 46% felt it was “about the same,” but a healthy 42% declared “it’s definitely getting better.”
Almost half of those surveyed – 46.5% – have also seen an increase in the number of attendees taking part in their events, although for 28% there was no discernible rise. In July last year, 50% felt that numbers were growing, while in February 2012 it was 53%. However, given the relatively small sample size, this slight downturn is not thought to represent a significant trend but a reflection of normal business cycles.
In turn, 35% felt there was good evidence to show that spending per participant at their events had grown, although a majority of 43% have yet to see this important measure start to rise. A further 22% were “not sure.”
Finally, when questioned regarding the impact the US presidential election campaign might have on their businesses in the next 6 months, mixed opinions were generated. While some felt that the pre-election period had not, and would not, impact their business, others felt that it had slowed down decision-making within the sector. Obama’s possible re-election also produced varied viewpoints. Comments ranged from “if Obama gets elected it will get better,” to another respondent who said his re-election would cause “the economy to slow down and business to retreat.” Other comments included “the logjam needs to break,” while one respondent reflected the views of several others with: “We are looking for new, effective leadership and I’m not sure that either candidate applies.”
IMEX America kicks off at the Sands Expo in Las Vegas with Smart Monday – Powered by MPI – on October 8, followed by a 3-day trade show set to welcome in excess of 2,000 hosted buyers, thousands more buyer attendees, and around 2,000 exhibiting companies from all over the world.