Demand for events and meetings will grow between 5 percent and 10 percent in 2019, according to a study released yesterday by Minneapolis-based CWT Meetings and Events, and the average size of meetings will rise in nearly every region.
“The global meetings and events industry can look forward to a buoyant 2019,” said Kurt Ekert, president and CEO of Carlson Wagonlit Travel, parent of CWT Meetings and Events. “On top of growing demand worldwide, we also expect global hotel rates to rise 3.7 percent, and flight prices 2.6 percent.”
As well as offering cost projections and a rundown on regional differences, the report also gives an overview of the latest industry trends.
PLANNING PAYS OFF The best time for booking meetings and events activity for small groups is 30-plus days out, while for large groups the sweet spot is 75-plus days, the study says. Outside of these booking windows, buyers are giving up between 5 percent and 10 percent in potential savings.
The practice of “strategic meetings management” will gain traction in regions outside North America, where it is more mature. The data shows that SMM can cut the time spent on sourcing by 22 percent and deliver an average 19 percent additional savings on room nights, CWT says.
Technology will also play a major part next year. Rapid innovation in this space is helping to create more engaging experiences and more targeted learning, while enabling greater data capture and analysis. Augmented reality, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, social media to drive engagement, ad hoc apps, and microsites are some of the technologies that will proliferate across the event industry.
TREND FOR SPECIAL SPACES As well as better technology, there will be a growing demand for unorthodox spaces and activities, particularly in the mature incentive markets in the U.S. and Europe.
Suppliers want to make experiences more memorable, the study says. Hotels are investing in their meetings and events capabilities. The use of unusual outdoor spaces (such as treehouses, rooftops and even islands) along with “festivalization” will be key trends for 2019.
CLIENTS DRIVE CONTENT The way event content is developed will also experience a major shift. The year 2019 will see further development of new formats: engaging attendees in content creation through questionnaires, and involving attendees in the identification of topics and choice of speakers.
In 2019, speakers will be less likely to be chosen on the strength of their celebrity status. The popular “TED talks” format has sparked a new way of presenting information, emphasizing knowledge, business insight and emotional connection to the audience, the study says.