Cause for concern
Discussing EIBTM´s Industry Trends Report, Davidson, a senior lecturer at University of Greenwich, said C&I industry confidence dropped in the summer, reflecting wider economic uncertainty.
"Last year there were strong signs of recovery, as discussed in my previous report. It continued in most regions at the start of 2011, but now it's appearing to drop off again," he added.
The US's "frustratingly weak" performance was cited as a big factor in this dip in buyer confidence, with Europe notably less confident than the rest of the world.
Elsewhere, American Express's research was discussed. The study showed a decrease in business travel for meetings, with 33% saying they will decrease spend in this area.
Demand still high
However, Davidson added that optimism and demand is still high among incentive planners, with 80% predicting incentive growth in 2012. "This prediction is reliable as many events are already booked," he said.
"We might be looking at a year of opportunities for second tier cities - the Edinburghs and Gothenburgs," he added.
Incentive travel was said to be stable in 2011, but there was a 25% move from international to domestic incentives as a result of cost-saving measures. Davidson added that 'lavish' incentive trips are yet to return.
The financial sector was highlighted as a potential growth area in 2012 due to an increase in mergers and start-up activity.
Changing industry message
For 2012, Davidson said modest growth is predicted for the world economy, with uncertainty and possible dips in emerging market growth. He added that another recession in the UK is a possibility, depending largely on US fiscal performance.
Davidson concluded that the meetings industry needs to better promote its value in improving company performance.