Meetings Canada


The _ _ _ _ Hits the Fan; a.k.a 2009

After hundreds of conversations, here is my answer to the question “how are things?” and looking ahead to 2010.

Have you noticed recently that when you attend industry gatherings people have stopped asking “how’s business” and instead ask “how are things?” I’ve come to the conclusion we have all thrown 2009 under the bus and are crossing the days off the calendar until Dec 31…at which point there will be one big collective ‘good riddance.’ So after hundreds of conversations, here is my answer to the question “how are things?”

First, (almost) every business in Canada is down; yes there are exceptions but that is why we call them exceptions. There is no shame in admitting to being down and no gain by lying about it. I’ve found that by being honest about how you are down has allowed open and honest dialogue about how other organizations are managing through their challenges. I have gained real insights and ideas that I have applied to my business this year as a result of this sharing.

I believe 2010 will be better than 2009 but not until the fall. I do not see any real increase in meetings activity in Canada happening for another 10 months. Admittedly, both planners and suppliers are optimistic about 2010 but both are being very realistic and conservative in their budgeting. I have yet to hear of one organization that is budgeting “up” for 2010; best case scenario is flat over 2009.

We have adapted to less revenue, less expenses and less resources; but our expectations have not decreased by the same percentage. I’ve seen a budget for an event cut by 50% and the expectations stay the same. This trend will not continue forever. Businesses can only take a hair-cut for so long before making one of three choices: (i) stop discounting/charge more/increase revenue, (ii) cut fixed costs thus reducing their offerings to clients, or (iii) cease to exist.

If you study history, recessions are a necessary evil of a capitalist based society. They are nature’s way of thinning the herd and eliminating the weak. The pendulum will swing back, but it will swing very slowly with this recession. Fortunately for Meetings & Incentive Travel, IncentiveWorks and we are owned by Rogers Media, Canada’s largest and most stable media and communications company, so rest assured we are not going anywhere and look forward to working with you in 2010.

I invite you to agree, disagree or comment on my prediction for 2010.

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