A new report from travel industry research authority PhoCusWright found that the U.S. corporate groups and meetings market suffered an astounding 29 percent decline in gross bookings in 2009 as a result of the recession and financial crisis. The report indicated that a moderate resumption of growth, underway since late 2009, could finally begin to impact the industry's bottom line in 2011.
PhoCusWright's Groups and Meetings: Driving Success in Business Travel's Most Complex Segment goes in-depth to examine the full impact of the recession and the outlook through 2012. While the market has clearly begun to recover, total gross travel bookings in 2012 will still sit well below even 2006 levels.
"If 2009 was a difficult year for the travel industry, it was disastrous for the corporate groups and meetings marketplace," said Douglas Quinby, senior director of research at PhoCusWright. "But the story in this market is not just about decline and recovery – which is underway – but really about transformation. Early developments in strategic meetings management and procurement, virtual meetings technology, and the application of social media and mobile services are now clearly established. These trends are reshaping how organizers are managing meetings, delivering content, engaging attendees, and ultimately realizing ROI."
PhoCusWright's study provided a robust picture of the U.S. groups and meetings market, based in part on data collected through a survey conducted with more than 600 meeting buyers, including meeting managers, planners, coordinators and procurement professionals. To supplement this extensive data, PhoCusWright interviewed more than 30 suppliers and intermediaries that service the industry – hotels, cruise lines, virtual meeting providers, TMCs, GDSs, technology providers and others. Key areas of focus in the report included:
• Market sizing and forecasts for 2008-2012, with analysis of meeting size and types, travel vs. non-travel spend, online bookings, use of intermediaries and more
• Trends in meeting management, including reporting and oversight, the influence of procurement, centralization, outsourcing and SMMP (Strategic Meetings Management Program) implementation
• Impact of virtual/video conferencing, with data and discussion on the extent to which virtual elements are displacing and/or supplementing physical meetings
• Social and mobile technology trends, including how emerging technologies influence the quality of the meeting experience and extend the meeting lifecycle
Despite the significant downturn, the U.S. corporate groups and meetings market is now on track to achieve double-digit growth by 2012.