Rob Davidson
University of Greenwich in London.

One of the most positive signs that I noticed when I was doing my research for this year’s EIBTM TrendsWatch report is the global upturn in demand for corporate events – meetings and incentives. Ever since the crisis of 2008, we have seen many companies reluctant to invest in business events, due to cuts in their budgets or unwillingness to be seen by their stakeholders to be spending freely on meetings and incentives. This has been particulrly frustrating when we know that many of those same companies have been sitting on large cash reserves. Such companies appeared to be saving those reserves in case they were required in the event of another major financial crisis.

Now, as even Europe appears to be enjoying a period of economic recovery, and the probability of another global crisis seems diminished, companies are increasingly returning to investing in their relationships with their employees and their clients, through training sessions, incentive programmes, product launches and other live marketing events. The impact of this greater willingness to spend has been noticed in the return to profitability of residential venues specialising in the hosting of corporate events. My theory is that part of the drive towards this resurgence in the field of corporate events is the fact that in recent years more and more companies have come to realise that cutting back on spending on their events is a false economy, and that having fewer events for the training and motivating of their staff and for ensuring valable face-to-face contact time with their clients and prospects brings its own costs in terms of demotivated employees and lost sales opportunities.

Of course, many companies have experimented with technology solutions in the attempt to drive down costs, and we in the meetings industry have to be honest and admit that there is a category of meetings that can be handled effectively online. Small, short meetings, where all of the participants already know each other and therefore no networking is required – these are the most likely to be substituted by videoconferencing or other applications of technology. But the events that do most to build confidence and trust between companies and their stakeholders can never be substituted in this way. Indeed, there is a growing body of research that suggests that the dominant role of technology in our professional and personal lives is making us hunger even more for face-to-face events.

I think that readers of this year’s EIBTM TrendsWatch report will be encouraged by the findings. All of the signs are that the recovery will be slow, and we are still along way down from pre-2008 spending levels, but we are definitely heading in the right direction. The only way is up!

EIBTM Trend Watch Report 2013

ARTICLE - Rob Davidson
Rob Davidson, University of Greenwich in London

Rob Davidson defining moments:

Craziest destination: Helsinki: it’s another planet – a BETTER planet! Not a crazy destination, but showing us all how crazy we are for not living in Finland

Craziest event: Turizmijada: an annual “conference” for tourism and hospitality students in the Balkan countries. It’s a wild party, from beginning to end – with SOME educational content (that’s where I come in …)

Historical event: Meeting my beloved one in 1984 (that’s ANCIENT history!)

Hotel to return to: The Hotel Splendid in Budva, Montenegro – they have the best spa in the world, and the best-smelling soap and shampoo!

Concert: The first concert I went to is still the best one for me: the rock band Hawkwind, in Edinburgh in 1972 – Silver Machine!!

Best rock band: Hawkwind, of course


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