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IMN Solutions
1110 N. Glebe Road, Suite 580
Arlington, Virginia 22201
Phone: (703) 908-0707
Fax: (703) 908-0709

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President's Message

The recession of 2008-2009 has affected all areas of the economy including associations, other non-profits, corporations, and especially the entire hospitality industry. It is in the spirit of a continuing recovery that this message is delivered. My report is intended to provide insight on industry trends in 2010, to offer strategies to help assist your association as the economic recovery begins and to update you on developments here at IMN Solutions.

Industry Trends – 2010

In speaking with many of you over the past year, there is no doubt that the economic downturn has affected nearly all associations as many have lost members, meeting attendees, sponsors and exhibitors, and revenues associated with these reductions. Meanwhile, associations are tasked with developing new and better programs, eliminating those that no longer fit with your mission, and cutting costs at the same time. Most organizations are surviving although some have not and 2010 will continue to be a challenging year as the impacts of the recession continue to resonate even though the media headlines and stock market points to a recovery.

While many organizations are streamlining their staffing levels, the outsource model has continued to grow as association executives look to qualified management companies and professionals to work hand-in-hand with their staffs to produce the results expected by the board. IMN Solutions is one of those companies that have seen new client growth this year and we are both humbled and energized as 2009 comes to a close and look forward to working with you to address the many challenges to be faced in the New Year.

As always, associations will count on their meeting programs to produce a portion on the revenue needed to spur organizational recovery. As a core component of our service offerings, IMN Solutions and our meeting management department is fully-staffed and well-prepared to help clients realize their goals in 2010. Our staff has worked hard to be proactive this year in renegotiating hotel contracts, reducing rates, reworking sleeping room blocks and meeting space allotment and, in some unfortunate cases, handling cancellations when necessary. Due to our buying power of over $100 million on behalf of our client organizations these negotiations have in nearly all cases been achieved at no penalty and little difficulty for our clients. At the same time our hospitality partners, who have been devastated economically have, for the most part, been forthright and fair in working with IMN Solutions and our clients to make our meetings as successful as possible. However, recent data released on the hospitality industry points to continued challenges in 2010.

According to Smith Travel Research hotel occupancies, revenues, and rates will continue to decline in 2010 despite seemingly more positive results posted by the lodging industry this past summer. The firm projected a full year (2009) average daily rate drop of 9.7% this year as well as a 17.1% drop in revenue per available room and an 8.4% drop in occupancy. The trend is expected to continue, but more modestly, in 2010. The hospitality industry will likely spin that data to suggest the market conditions have now changed and the end of the buyers market is in sight. Our position is that there is still a tremendous amount of room inventory available in 2010 and the buyers market will remain strong in 2010 and into 2011. Off the record, several hoteliers have told me that there are great deals to be had at least through June and that owners are pushing for future bookings for 2011 and beyond during the first half of this year to satisfy investors and acquire capital.

A recent article in Association Meetings (November 30) painted an equally-bleak picture for hotel owners with the story focusing on closings, re-flaggings and bankruptcies. The article noted that "hotel fundamentals clearly have not bottomed out - we're still in a declining phase of the cycle" (but that the decline won't be as steep in 2010 as it was in 2009). Our staff has been directed to pay close attention to any reports of hotels in serious financial difficulty so that our clients can make informed decisions on how to proceed with future meetings. Your IMN Solutions hotel contracts have provisions to protect the association in the event of financial difficulties and we will be in close communications with the hotel industry to identify a problem before it becomes a crisis and at the same time work to develop contingency plans if needed.

The good news? The current market conditions offer an excellent (but time sensitive) opportunity for associations to extend their bookings and to secure attractive rates and terms for future meetings - please expect to hear from your account director on the urgency to accelerate bookings as this will be a primary focus for my staff the first half of this year.

Concern Over Hotel Service Levels

While excellent deals should be abundant in the near-term we are advising and will be working closely with our clients and hotel partners to help ensure the success of meetings already booked in 2010. The effects of lost revenue for hotels can mean they are in a "cost-cutting" mode and full service hotels may be affected the most due to higher staffing levels and service expectations. Labor is the most expensive cost therefore it will be the first to be cut. In addition some hotels are reducing room service and restaurant hours or even closing off entire floors of rooms. Fortunately, the hotel contracts negotiated by IMN Solutions, on your behalf, have special protections and clauses in place to ensure proper service levels by the hotel - in addition we will be monitoring your hotels and meetings closely and will advise you of any developments that could affect your event.

IMN Solutions 2010 Expansion Plans

While most of our industry continues to right-size in preparation of the recovery, we have been able to meet the needs of our meeting and management clients, offer important solutions through our partner network, grow our most successful Convene Green Alliance, increase our professional team and remote offices, and prepare to launch our new global initiative, the Alliance for International Meetings and Commerce (AIMC). In January we will open our new office in New York City. In addition to increasing our global reach and to add additional support to the Alliance for International Meetings and Commerce, IMN Solutions will expand Its worldwide presence from the current office in Mougins, France to an additional office in Shanghai, China in early 2010. I personally will be heading up the NY office and overseeing our global expansion.

Click here for additional information and updates on IMN Solutions, our partner affiliates and our plans for 2010.  [this should be linked to a separate page with the President’s Message #2 (also attached) content.]

Final Thoughts

As we begin the New Year I would like to first thank all of our clients, members, and hospitality partners for the professional support you have extended during a challenging 2009. I would also like to say how proud I am of the IMN Solutions team who worked so hard and long to assist our clients last year and still had time to develop new clients and opportunities. We enthusiastically and cautiously enter 2010 with the same passion and service promise to our clients and look to opportunities to grow our company globally. Please live and Meet Naturally and always remember, together we are the Power of the Network.


Jack Sammis