The survey was conducted in association with Pricewaterhousecoopers (PwC), the HBAA and Conference Centres of Excellence, and was completed by more than 80 agencies and venues.
Results reflected a positive trading outlook, with 86% of those surveyed being 'more optimistic' than six months ago, 83% more positive about the remainder of 2013, and 80% feeling the same way about 2014.
The future also looks bright for corporate meetings, with 85% of venues citing it as the product for which they are seeing the strongest demand, followed by training courses (60%), association events (32%), AGMs/annual events and team-building events (both 30%) and product launches (15%).
Reasons for concern
The research also highlighted the industry's concerns, with 81% of respondants citing weak economic growth as one of the three biggest obstacles to business, followed by procurement and the RFP process (50%); and inflation and rising business costs (49%).
HBAA executive director Juliet Price said: "The economy has dominated the thoughts and worries of the event industry in the last half-decade and, although it remains a concern for venues and agencies, it’s great to see that as a sector, we are becoming more optimistic about the future of business trading.
"The survey results are especially important in understanding where the concerns of our members lie so that the association can offer support and look for solutions accordingly."
PwC head of hospitality and leisure research Liz Hall said: "While it’s still early days in any economic recovery, we are cautiously optimistic about prospects. Business travel should benefit from improved confidence and the economic pick-up: positive signs for conference and meetings venues."