Financial Conference Organizers Anticipating Harder Times Ahead, Finds New Study

10 December 2008

FINANCIAL CONFERENCE ORGANIZERS ANTICIPATING HARDER TIMES AHEAD, FINDS NEW STUDY

* 69% of organizers anticipating a more challenging conference
environment in 2009 due to harder market conditions.
* 67% of organizers expecting challenges in the coming year have
already begun to address anticipated difficulties by changing their locations, agendas or incentives to attract attendance.

NEW YORK, 10th December 2008 - Financial PR & Marketing company Cognito recently commissioned a study of more than 60 financial conferences and conference organizers to assess how these firms are planning to respond to 2008's weakened conference turnout and general market turbulence. The study finds that while some organizers have not yet outlined steps to address anticipated challenges for 2009, many organizers do plan to change their format next year. Around half of those questioned indicated that they had plans in place to increase or promote conference attendance in 2009 through such measures as changing venues or adding sponsorship incentives.

Other findings of the study include:

- 46% of organizers surveyed indicated that they were implementing changes for 2009.
- Of those 46% of organizers, around half have taken moderate steps such as offering discounts to first time exhibitors or offering a wider variety of sponsorship packages designed to fit any budget. The other half have taken more drastic steps, such as changing conference venues or moving cities, upon 2008 attendee feedback.
- Of the 54% of organizers who did not indicate that any changes would be made for 2009, 57% did not believe that the conference industry would be affected by the market.
- 43% of organizers who did not plan to implement changes indicated that they had at least considered how the conference industry might be altered by economic conditions in the coming year.

Dan Simon, Managing Director of Cognito in New York, comments, "With travel budgets cut and executives less inclined to leave their desks during turbulent times, 2009 could be a challenging year for conference organizers. Many of our clients are asking themselves and us where to invest next year, given diminishing turnout towards the end of 2008. We believe it's essential for potential sponsors to consider the conference landscape carefully in 2009 and see who is taking pre-emptive measures to prevent further attrition and to prepare for the challenges that next year will bring."

Tom Coombes, CEO, of Cognito adds, "We are proud to work with a number of conference organizers and it's heartening to see so many already identifying new ways to drive attendance in 2009. We think now is the time for conferences to get creative. To help companies begin to plan for 2009, Cognito is offering a free webinar, which will address best practices for maximizing your company's presence at industry events in the coming year, including setting benchmarks for event success and driving booth traffic."

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