More event managers will embrace virtual meetings and hybrid events this year as they endeavour to stay in line with the "conservative" meetings market, a new report has found.
On the back of ongoing economic uncertainty, the Carlson Wagonlit Travel (CWT) 2012 Travel Management Priorities report, released last week, found that 66% of meetings and events businesses are primarily concerned with the need to reduce costs and increase savings.
Ongoing market volatility is likely to spark a sharp decline in international meetings, but events are not likely to cease altogether, with the reporting noting a growing trend towards strategic meetings and and online events.
Large scale virtual meetings are likely to take place of traditional conferences, it found, while hybrid events with video streaming and online participation are also likely to take off.
The use of live Twitter feeds and broadcast speeches on YouTube are also likely to increase.
National Manager CWT Meetings & Events, Fernando Lonergan, credited the trend to an increasingly "prudent" approach to meetings and events spending.
"Organisations are becoming increasingly scrupulous when measuring return and investment on events and often re-considering whether events really need to take place," he said.
But rather than shy away from holding meetings, he said online alternatives are more attractive.
"There will always be a place for events – especially in this competitive environment – and for companies looking to cut costs, virtual meetings make sense," he said.
With a "conservative outlook ahead", Fernando expects the trend for virtual and hybrid events to remain strong.
"We’re only seeing the beginning of a big shift towards virtual meetings which will become much more involved, particularly in this competitive environment," he said.
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