Research indicates events are growing in importance

Live communication events continue to climb the global marketing agenda, according to research that found conferences and events are second only to direct marketing in terms of delivering return on investment (ROI). The research by industry body MPI Foundation and events agency The George P Johnson Company (GPJC) found that budgets are rising, internal events are more important and measurement of events is driving investment. MPI director of European operations and global development Didier Scaillet said the research proved meetings are an investment. "For too long meetings have been seen as an overhead. They are an expensive method of communication and we have to be able to demonstrate their effectiveness to senior management," he said. Companies that measured the effectiveness of meetings were twice as likely to increase spending on events, said Scaillet. "Travel and meetings are the third largest expense for firms and they want to get a grip on the costs. The good news is those who measure events find they are powerful tools," he added. More than 700 marketers in the US, Europe and Asia Pacific were polled, and were optimistic that budgets were holding steady or growing, with 35% anticipating increases in the year ahead and 54% indicating no change. The findings confirmed recent UK research by GPJC (CIT, January 2004), where 46% of UK marketing directors said events would be increasingly important. Elsewhere, marketers were even more bullish, with 47% in the US, 58% in Germany and 63% in Asia Pacific agreeing with the statement. Internal events are becoming more important according to the research. Scaillet said the revival of the mergers and acquisition market, along with rising salaries, were driving this phenomenon. "Salaries are one element of recruiting and retaining people, but the opportunities companies can provide with training and personal development are also important. Internal events are one of the best ways of generating loyalty to a company." Tradeshows are the preferred event tactic, ranking just above conferences and seminars in terms of perceived ROI. This is reflected in budget allocation, with trade shows and sponsorships taking the largest proportion.

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