MPI Reports Business Conditions Improving

While U.S. concern over rising fuel and travel costs continues to headline trends, more than 20 percent of U.S. meeting and event professionals say they fear rising fuel and airfare costs will have a negative effect on face-to-face meetings volume, according to the latest Meeting Professionals International (MPI) Business Barometer.

While the current effect is not significant, meeting and event professionals predict the continued high fuel and airfare costs will become an industry challenge, MPI says.

In April, concerns over travel costs were restricted to U.S. meeting and event professionals. In June, a small percentage of European meeting and event professionals (3 percent) also expressed concern.

Highlights from the June report:
    •    72 percent of survey participants see current business conditions improving compared to 2010.
    •    Projected business levels remain high, showing an anticipated 4 percent improvement in the coming months.
    •    While current and projected business conditions continue to be very positive, there is an early indication that increasing uncertainty about the U.S. economy may be slightly limiting projected business levels in the U.S.

Meanwhile, U.S. planners cited add-on hotel costs such as Internet, parking, service and vendor charges as a rising problem. On the other hand, unease regarding the lack of Congressional agreement for the U.S. federal budget has abated, and European professionals no longer express worry of negative trends from the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

The MPI Barometer said employment for meeting and event professionals continues to strengthen. The Europe and U.S. regions both indicate continued growth in full-time, part-time and contract employment. The number of hiring companies has grown steadily for the past 12 months. Strongest employment growth in the U.S. is in contract and full-time employment. European meeting and event professionals report strongest growth in contract and part time employment.

A possible new trend comes in the form of add-on hotel fees for a variety of services that were not separately billed in the past, the MPI notes.

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