Innovation the key to business event longevity
Independent research into the meetings and events industry in Australia by Micromex Research and commissioned by micenet magazine has revealed event organisers must continue to be innovative.
The online study of almost 500 readers of micenet magazine conducted in 2014 provided a raft of interesting finding that give a clear indication of the current state of the industry and the outlook for the remainder of the year and beyond.
Client budgets and the cost of doing business were identified as among the main issues facing the meetings and events industry over the next few years. (See Figure 1)
On average, study participants organise or book 39 events per year. This was an increase of 14 events per study participant per year compared to 2011 findings.
Just under 40 per cent of respondents expect the average number of attendees at events they are running to increase in the next 12 months. Fifty-nine per cent they believed that delegate numbers would remain the same. Four per cent of respondents believed delegate numbers would decrease.
On the number of delegates per event, figures were:
- 1-150 delegates – 52 per cent of survey respondents
- 150-350 – 29 per cent
- 351-500 – eight per cent
- 501-750 – five per cent
- 751-1000 – three per cent
- 1000 + – one per cent
- More than 2000 – two per cent
Results show that the number of delegates per event continues to fall, and is in line with previous surveys conducted by Micromex on behalf of micenet. In 2011 the average number of attendees per conference or event was 143. In 2009 the average number of attendees per conference or event was 149, and in the 2007 study the average number of attendees per conference or event was 158.
Increasing interaction at events
When asked what their view was on increasing interaction at conferences, respondents gave the following:
- 56 per cent said it was vital as it increases engagement, retention of information and improves networking.
- 35 per cent said it was good as it maintains the attention of the audience and makes the experience more enjoyable.
- Two per cent said it was irritating and distracted from the business purpose
- Seven per cent said they had no opinion as it makes little or no difference to the business outcome.
Social media promotion
While arguments continue to abound about social media and its effective for business, event planners at least are using it widely to promote their meetings and events. (See Figure 1). Findings were:
- 59 per cent use Facebook to promote their events
- 45 per cent use Twitter
- 45 per cent use LinkedIn
- 21 per cent use YouTube
- 18 per cent use Instagram
- Eight per cent use Pinterest
- 23 per cent don’t use any social media
This last finding is significant when compared to the 2011 study where 46 per cent of survey respondents said they did not use any form of social media to promote their event. Compared to 2011, Facebook use has grown by 14 per cent, Twitter has grown by 17 per cent, LinkedIn has grown by 23 per cent, and YouTube has grown by 11 per cent.
Domestic destination diversity
Survey respondents were asked what domestic destinations they were considering for their upcoming conference/event, with a significant shift resulting in 2014 compared to 2011 results.
Sydney and Melbourne remain the most popular cities for upcoming meetings and events (see Figure 2), followed by Brisbane, Perth, the Gold Coast, Adelaide and Alice Springs (a new entrant with three per cent).
What is interesting however, is that whereas in 2011, 27 per cent of respondents said they were considering other destinations (to those above), in 2014, 42 per cent were considering other destinations. This could indicate that more meeting and event planners are looking beyond the traditional cities to host their upcoming events.
The hottest international destinations for upcoming meetings and events are:
- New Zealand – 18 per cent
- United States – 10 per cent
- Singapore – eight per cent
- Fiji – five per cent
- Hong Kong – five per cent
Only four per cent of survey respondents in 2011 indicated they were considering the United States for upcoming meetings and events.
State of the events industry
When asked what statement best describes the state of the events industry in 2014 responses were:
- 43 per cent agreed that people are always looking for something new, there is no difference with audiences of today compared to previous years.
- 41 per cent agreed that the attention span of audiences is getting shorter so organisers need to change the way they structure events.
- 15 per cent agreed that in the future people will be less likely to attend events and so organisers need to make content available online.
- One per cent agreed that traditional formulas for putting on events work well so there is no need for change.
Industry exhibitions continue to be a hot topic for the business event sector with some practitioners claiming continuing to say that there are too many. However, the Micromex research reveals that there are a number of key events that will continue to see strong attendance numbers.
The AIME exhibition held in Melbourne continues to lead the way. The 2014 survey findings have revealed that 68 per cent of survey respondents intend visiting AIME in the next two years. This is an 18 per cent growth from the 2011 survey which found that 50 per cent of respondents anticipate attending AIME within the next two years.
Other popular exhibitions that survey respondents anticipate attending were:
- MEETINGS New Zealand – 22 per cent
- InspireEX – 21 per cent
- Luxperience – 11 per cent
- IMEX America – nine per cent
- ITB Singapore – nine per cent
- IMEX Frankfurt – eight per cent
- PAICE (NZ) – seven per cent
- EIBTM – six per cent
Many other survey questions were specifically on respondents’ thoughts on the content, useability, and delivery of micenet magazine. Twenty one per cent of survey respondents said they had placed event business with advertisers they had seen in the magazine with the average value of that business being $238,981. This is an average increase of $57,182 compared to 2011 findings.
Industry news, destination reports, and case studies were the most regularly read sections mentioned by subscribers closely followed by opinion pieces and contributed columns.
micenet was identified as the most widely read and most useful industry magazine serving the local business event community, with approximately four people viewing each copy of the magazine.
Findings will be used by micenet to fine tune its content and delivery to readers.