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The 2013 Sag

Thursday, April 25, 2013

We’re coming up on the midway point of another year. But 2013 isn’t shaping up like just any year...at least in the meetings and conventions market. In our work with DMOs around the country last year, we heard a consistent concern...that bookings for 2013 were off. Everywhere.

For every destination, there are good years and bad. Destinations steal business back and forth. It’s all part of the “Circle of Life” for DMOs. And, when one destination is down, we would expect another to be up.

But, that’s not what we’re hearing. Virtually everybody says 2013 is off. So where did all those meetings go? It almost feels like 2009.

Which got me to thinking...

We all chalked up the lack of meeting business in 2009 to the Great Recession, which was in full bloom. Industry experts estimated that 20% of all meetings simply didn’t occur due to the withering economy. But...was it the economy that put a dagger in the heart of the meetings industry?

Or, was it the Presidential Election?

Have we reached a point in which the incessant media coverage of the run-up to election day causes the meetings and convention industry to pull up in hesitation? That the uncertainty regarding the leadership of the next four years is enough to cause some meeting planners to postpone making a decision?

While the economy isn’t fully back by a long shot, it certainly is stronger than it was in 2008-09. So why didn’t planners pull the trigger in 2012 for their 2013 meetings?

With so many moving parts to the equation, it will take an analysis of the 2017 meetings calendar to tell if this hypothesis holds any water. But, if, in four years, we have another off year, it’ll be just one more indictment of how the media influences our economy. 

And, not for the better.

DMO pros need to ensure that they are accurately tracking the true reason for lost business with absolute voracity. Without it, we can only postulate what is driving our collective bookings down. With better intel, we'll all be able to address the issues that are preventing us from producing the impact we were born to create for our communities.

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