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Meeting planners say budgets tight for 2010

The majority of meeting planners responding to an annual industry survey predict budget cuts, more stringent budget controls, improved operating efficiencies, slight staff reductions, closer attention to value and return on investment and a general orientation toward doing more with less.

The results of FutureWatch 2010, an industry outlook prepared each year by Meeting Professionals International and American Express, showed that the economic confidence that evaporated in 2009 is beginning to return, and that meeting planners are beginning to cope with the realities of a new economy.

Respondents agreed that industry conditions will being to improve in the second half of 2010 or in 2011. Meeting and event planners project a 2.8 percent increase in meetings held and a 4.5 percent increase in meeting attendance in the coming year. Meeting spend, though, will be slow to rebound, they say.

Among the other findings of FutureWatch 2010:

—Competitive pricing will be a cornerstone to business
—Planners and suppliers will take a back-to-basics approach to their transacations, as value and quality will trump frills, extras and special deals.
—Meetings will be held closer to home.
—Return on investment will continue to be of top priority.
—Corporate social responsibility will be a continuing interest for meeting and event professional organizations.
—Technology providers will find an enthusiastic audience for virtual and Web-based technologies.
Respondents for FutureWatch 2010 were 1,832 MPI members, 72 percent of whom are in the United States.

MPI members can access the entire report free at the MPI Web site,