Survey Report: The State of the Meeting Design Industry

The Meeting Design Industry Is Growing


In March-May 2014, meeting professionals from EU and North America were surveyed for a Meeting Design Industry research study. The research was conducted for Meeting Design Institute by its former intern Sofia Nikolaeva, Lahti University of Applied Sciences, Finland.
The results from the survey consist of responses from 104 respondents. The theoretical framework of the study is based on both published and electronic sources regarding the meetings industry, the meeting design term, b2b markets and Porter's framework for industry analysis.
Design Industry from its suppliers’ point of view. The four main questions of the research were: 1.What is the current state of the Meeting Design Industry? 2. How satisfied are the suppliers with the market and their position? 3. How do they consider the role and the value of the Meeting Design Industry? 4. How intense is rivalry in the meeting design market?
The Profile of Meeting Design Suppliers
This research aimed to categorize meeting design suppliers into four main groups; the technology suppliers, the technical suppliers, training/consultancy/expert suppliers and finally the production suppliers.
The research indicates that roughly 44 % of the respondents provide services and tools from one service category, while 56 %  provide a wide range of services for meeting and event professionals. 73% of respondents identified themselves as technology suppliers, 71 % as training, consultancy and project management suppliers, 28 % as technical while 45 % identified themselves as production suppliers.
This fact could be pointing out that multitasking is typical for the industry. Furthermore, the research indicates that buyers and suppliers are often switching their roles. That could be because to preserve long-term clients, suppliers have to keep a comprehensive service portfolio and provide its customers with a full range of services. For example, to keep his important client from switching to a competitor a meeting planner may serve as a distributor/partner of event technology.
33% of respondents said they had been from 0 to 5 years in the marketplace while 48% said they had been there over 10 years. Among those who were over 10 years in the industry were more meeting planners, consultants and other experts. 51 % of respondents have revenue starting from 0 to 1 million euros. Among those who have over 1 million revenue were high ratio of technology suppliers. 59 % of respondents have from 1 to10 employees in their company while 25 % have from 11 to 49 employees, and 12 % have over 50 employees in their company.
All of this data demonstrates that meeting design is yet a fragmented industry. Porter explained (2008); that market could be so big or diverse that it requires many firms to satisfy buyers’ needs. Alternatively, it can be that the industry is so new that no large firms have yet emerged.
The State of the Meeting Design Industry
Roughly 70 % of respondents said that they belong to the meeting design industry while 90% said they belong to the meetings industry. 74 % of respondents said that the meeting design industry and its suppliers have a tangible impact on the meetings industry. These results are rather surprising giving the facts that the industry is in its early stage of development, and there is no clear consensus surrounding definition, methodologies, or practices of the meeting design term.
51 % of the respondents said that the meeting design is an emerging industry while 26% said that it is a growth industry. Almost 56 % said that the number of customers is growing, and 38 % said it is stable. 55 % of participants said  that they are satisfied with the market size. This data could indicate high potential of the industry it also supports the idea that the meeting design is an emerging and growing industry.
42 % of respondents said that meeting planners are NOT well aware of tools and services for meeting design while 27 % disagree with that statement. The research shows that 62 % of respondents feel that meeting professionals have been slow to embrace tools for meeting design. However, roughly 57% of respondents said that the situation is improving, and it is getting easier to convince their client in value of the services/products. That could be because most of the customers are first-time users. On the other hand, such slow embracement of the new products and services can be a typical problem for b2b markets.
Competition in the Meeting Design Marketplace
81 % of respondents said that new competitors have recently entered their market. 46% said some competitors have recently gone out of the market. Roughly 60 % said it is difficult for new competitors to enter the industry and market area while 32 % said that it is easy. Among those who indicated entrances as easy were more meeting designers, planners and consultants as they could have lower entrance and exit costs. The results could indicate high competition high but great size of the market.
At this stage, the rapid growth and the large number of recently entered competitors are not necessarily negative signs. All these results may be pointing out that meeting design industry is developing and growing. With the industry shift to a mature stage, the buyers’ focus will shift from deciding whether to purchase the product at all to making choices among brands.
A Conclusion
It seems that at the moment, the meeting design market is “hot” and it is attracting many new suppliers to the industry. Because many products were developed around a new need/idea and are not fully formed, customers can be confused by lack of product standardization and multiplicity of meeting design services. The value and the benefits of these services are probably unclear for buyers.

It can be that as members of the b2b industry, meeting design buyers try to stick to proven processes and tools that have worked for years. Even though, the results might not be satisfying. Hence, one of the main tasks for meeting design suppliers could be to educate the meeting design market. As meeting design market become better educated on using new tools for effective meetings the overall business performance will improve.
Research shows that the meeting design industry is fragmented and run primarily by small businesses. Therefore, at this stage of development meeting design suppliers need to cooperate and approach issues jointly, under a single umbrella.
As the industry will continue to grow and mature, it will find its way to sustainable development such as social, environment and economic. The change may not happen quickly, but it will happen firmly.
Experience design and Gamification will be a vital part of new products and services in the meeting design area. These new, smart tools for meeting design will make meetings more sustainable, measurable, strategic and fun. Besides that, new meeting design tools will help to evaluate meeting impact by numbers. It will bring meetings to the next level of effectiveness and provide better ROI for its’ stakeholders.

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