Rob Davidson, a guru in the international meeting industry now owner of the consultancy company MICE Knowledge, held one week ago at the Vilnius-based exhibition Convene a major speech about nowadays trends in the meetings industry. I will present it to you in two parts, given the extreme interest of the thing and the range of topics that Rob made stress on.

The global economic situation

Last year’s polling results were unexpected: protectionist and populist sentiments showed on the rise, in the midst of disruptive and fast-moving technological advances as well as of geopolitical and social turmoil.

Global economic performance was lacklustre in 2016; IMF forecast for global growth is 3.4% for 2017, but prospects differ sharply across countries and regions. Emerging Asia in general and India in particular show robust growth, whilst the largest economies in sub-Saharan Africa (Nigeria, South Africa, Angola) are experiencing considerable slowdowns. Brazil and Russia continue to face challenging macroeconomic conditions, and over three-quarters of projected world growth comes from emerging market economies

Key corporate markets

Worldwide spending on information and communications technology was flat in 2016. Lacklustre economic issues held back demand and the worldwide personal computer (PC) recovery in 2016. Windows 10 upgrades have further led to PC buying being delayed — consumers are willing to use older PCs longer, once they are upgraded to Windows 10.

Overall, the global market for automotive products was favourable in 2016. The US market is peaking at historic levels, but may face a moderate downturn in 2018. New car registrations in the EU rose 9.3 percent year-on-year, to 12.6 million units, but that is still well below the record year of 2007. Italy (+17.4%), Spain (+11.5%), Germany (+6.1%), France (+5.7%) and the UK (+2.6%) showed the best growth rates. Over the next five years, the Middle East and Africa, a relatively un-motorised region, will see strong and consistent automobile sales growth. The top 5 emerging markets are Thailand, Indonesia, South Africa, Turkey and Argentina.

Pharmaceutical companies are optimistic about economic conditions in North America and the Asia-Pacific due to positive momentum in the US, firm domestic demand, and strong government expenditure in India. Higher expenditure is foreseen on new product development and mergers and acquisitions. Major drivers are increasing incidences of chronic diseases owing to sedentary lifestyles, substantial investments by the pharmaceutical companies in development of medicines, and the implementation of new techniques such as nanotechnology. Whereas major challenges could be the decreasing of the side-effects of drugs as well as the developing of environmental-friendly manufacturing processes and the increasing of regulatory requirements, which are making it progressively difficult to get new manufacturing facilities approved.

As for the construction sector, there is strong probability that continuing global economic instability will drive its revenues, but there are bright spots: in the US, construction starts are forecast to advance by 6 percent this year, and worldwide annual infrastructure spending will grow to more than US$9 trillion per year by 2025 – if the political will is there. The major drivers of growth are the increasing rate of urbanisation and rising population numbers.

The Asia-Pacific construction market is expected to remain the largest market due to rapid growth in rising per capita income and increasing urbanisation in this region. China is opening its domestic infrastructure market to international investors and India’s ongoing programme of urban renewal, energy and transport development will help make that country the world’s third-largest construction market by 2018. By 2025, a quarter of the world’s working age population will be located in India and this workforce is well educated, multilingual, highly skilled and lower cost.

Association conferences

The number of associations – in particular international associations – is continuously growing. The UIA Yearbook of International Organisations includes 68,576 international associations, 547 more than the year before (just think that the 1909 edition of the Yearbook included only 213 organisations!). 15 of the top-ranked 20 cities were European, the same number as the previous year, and 13 of the top-ranked 20 countries are European, one more than the previous year.

72 percent of AIPC members are experiencing either strong or moderate economic growth in their region, 21 percent of members say economic growth is strong compared to 13 percent in 2015.

(to be continued)





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