Financial meltdown: What does it mean for meetings?

If you're like me, you're spending a lot of time learning about things like credit default swaps (check the date on this article--could we not have seen this coming?) and other financial WMDs in hopes of understanding what's going on in the U.S. financial industry, and what the government is proposing to do about it (update here). Which is difficult enough to get my arms around.

Then I sit in on this conversation (free registration req'd) at Meetings Collaborative about what it all could possibly mean for the meetings business. Hotels will find it harder to get financing for expansions and renovations, most likely. Will construction of new hotels in the pipeline come to a screeching halt? Here are some perspectives.

And the meetings themselves, well, in the financial world, all these mergers and acquisitions likely will mean more meetings, at least in the short term. In the rest of corporate America, business travel--the canary in the meetings coal mine--is continuing to slow. I expect corporate meetings will likely remain mostly status quo, since they've been contracting and eliminating all but essential meetings for a while anyway, due to air issues and the economic climate we had before things got really toxic. We may see more of an uptick in virtual meetings, but that was happening anyway, too. Some independents are finding today's struggling economy the perfect time to expand their business. Others, not so much.

Association meetings? Who knows. So far, I'm hearing that everything is still going as planned and attendance is for the most part holding. Some, like the Interbike bike convention, say business is actually booming more as conditions worsen.

So, I guess we'll have to wait and see how this all will shake out, both in terms of the financial market/government rescue plans, and they're effect on meetings. One thing I'm fairly sure of is that it's going to be a bit of a rough winter for a lot of us, both personally and professionally.

P.S. I have to pass along The Subprime Primer from Business Pundit. While it has no shortage of profanity, especially toward the end (so do not click through if you're offended by foul language), it actually made me laugh about the mess we're in, which was a first.

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