The aftereffects of the economic times is still being felt by many and many are still planning budgets carefully even though signs are showing modest growth for 2012. Take the case of local councils planning their travel and conference budgets. While not representing a large portion of “buyers” within the conference and meetings budget, staff and managers at many levels travel to conferences for anything from Heath policy, Waste disposal to intergovernmental policy making meetings – in fact employees from every part of what makes a city or council function. While not part of a survey to properly guage forward planning, Sturgeon County, USA is a typical example form a simple “ask around”. Sturgeon CountyCouncil(USA) has just approved its 2012 operating and capital budget. After much discussion, the council has reduced by 15.5%, the administration’s budget for conferences and travel.
How many people does this mean? – in 2006 there were 19,700,000 Government Employees from all sections across the USA. Admitedly, not all will be attending conferences, however, cities and councils need to find ways to cope and do business – and that means meetings. Even in the UK, according to a recent report, recruitment has been curtailed in many local councils and the number of local government employees fell by around 3.5% in 2010 following reductions in public spending announced 2010. Certain goverments in the European Union are making wholesale cuts in goverment spending and staffing levels. Now, concider that employement and spending is being trimmed across the globe to ease debt and budget burdens.
What do these reductions and staff trimming exercises mean for meeting planners? City and state planning has to carry on or the quality of life and services degrades. That’s a problem for politicians at least.
However, even an across the board reduction of say 10% means that saving must be made somewhere. That translates to either shorter travel, conference attendances, savings on hotel bookings, flight booking management – and yes – pressure on conference suppliers to shave costs for delegates. Meeting planners and venue managers will likely need to be ready to negotiate if you are involved with conference and meetings involving govermental organisations.