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Revenue from meetings has increased as much as 25 percent in the past few years, while attendance also shows promising numbers, according to the first Meetings Marketing Benchmarking Study of Marketing General Inc., Alexandria, Va.
“Meetings, conventions, and conferences are often the centerpiece of association benefits,” MGI president Rick Whelan said. “We believe that meetings deserve special attention so the association community will have better information about what works for others and may work for them.”
Research included 440 association and meetings professionals who answered 42 questions. Findings include:
• Attendance seems to be doing well over the long term and better in the short term.
– 98 percent of respondents hold an annual meeting or tradeshow, and 81 percent characterize their meetings as both a conference and a tradeshow.
– 56 percent saw an increase in meeting attendance from 2011 to 2012.
– 44 percent of associations have seen a rise in meeting attendance since pre-recession 2007.
• Revenue for a majority of respondents has increased between 11-25 percent since 2007.
– 28 percent of organizations derive less than 10 percent of their revenue from their annual meeting, but 15 percent of trades and 18 percent of individual membership/trades derive more than 50 percent of their revenue from it.
– The median registration fee for members is $450 and $595 for nonmembers.
– 74 percent of individual membership organizations offer member discounts while 60 percent of trades offer them.
• Promotion most often uses email to members (78%), the association website (48%), and direct mail (38%).
– Annual meetings are most promoted by email to members (98%), the association website (90%), and word-of-mouth (84%).
– 91 percent of associations that use social media to promote meetings use Facebook.
• Location is the top consideration when an association chooses its venue.
– 98 percent plan their meetings around the same time every year, and 79 percent change their venue.
– Location is the foremost consideration in choosing a venue, followed by ease of access and cost to the association.
– The venues cited as “most important” are San Francisco, Orlando, Fla., San Diego and Las Vegas.
These data also indicate that the average annual meeting promotional budget in 2011 was $167,574, and the median investment was $34,000.
The greatest challenge to meeting planners is balancing good content with affordability, satisfying those who want change vs. those who are averse to it, and fitting social and entertainment time into increasingly compacted schedules.
The most important lessons learned by many of the respondents of the study: Keep your members top of mind, listen to their needs, and make decisions based on the data you collect from them.
The Meetings Marketing Benchmarking Study summary is available at MGI’s booth #251 at the ASAE annual meeting in Dallas. It is a companion to the Membership Marketing Benchmarking Study, now in its fourth year, which can be downloaded from the MGI website www.marketinggeneral.com.