According to the 2019 Meetings & Events Future Trends report â€“ published by Carlson Wagonlit Travel’s Meetings & Events (CWT M&E) division â€“ the demand for meetings and events is set to grow between five per cent to 10% next year, and the average size of meetings will rise in nearly every region.
â€śThe global meetings and events industry can look forward to a buoyant 2019,â€ť said Kurt Ekert, president and CEO of CWT. â€śOn top of growing demand worldwide, we also expect global hotel rates to rise 3.7%, and flight prices 2.6%.â€ť
As well as cost projections and a run-down on regional differences, the report also ranks the top meeting destinations in each region, and gives an overview of the latest industry trends.
In the Asia Pacific, a strong growth in the region expected to continue in 2019 with the average meeting size up 3% and China seeing consistent expansion year-on-year.
Vietnam, Myanmar and the Philippines are buzzing as multinational companies establish their presence, with more inbound and outbound travel in these markets predicted for the coming year.
Asia Pacific is expected to lead the way for global growth in 2019. CWT is predicting that airfares will rise by 3.2% in 2019 with hotel rates set to go up by 5.1%.
With such strong growth throughout the region, there is an increased willingness by organisations to spend on meetings and events.
In addition, the report found that the best time for booking meetings and events activity for small groups is 30+ days out, while for large groups the sweet spot is 75+ days. Outside of these booking windows, buyers are giving up five per cent to 10% in potential savings.
Strategic Meetings Management (SMM) is also set to gain traction in regions outside North America, where it is more mature. The data show that SMM can cut the time spent on sourcing by 22% and deliver an average 19% additional savings on room nights.
â€śSMM tips the scales back in favour of clients by shifting sales towards preferred suppliers and analysing demand to work out the optimum times to secure the best venues, hotels and flights â€“ and lock in the best prices,â€ť said Cindy Fisher, senior vice president and global head, CWT M&E.
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 meetings and events industry.
New technology also creates smarter ways of monitoring ROI and ROE: for example, using data to fine-tune the value around meetings programs, and booking group transport with apps and online booking tools.
These platforms can be integrated into the eventâ€™s registration process, giving attendees access to preferred flights and hotels in one place. Managing bookings online, as with general business travel, will also help reduce costs for clients. Another trend for group transportation will be to use suppliers with global reach.
As well as better technology, there will be a growing demand for unorthodox spaces and activities, particularly in the mature incentive markets in the US and Europe. Suppliers want to make the experience more memorable. Hotels are investing in their meetings and events capabilities. The use of unusual outdoor spaces like treehouses, rooftops and even islands, along with â€śfestivalization,â€ť will be key trends for 2019.
Content will also experience a major shift. 2019 will see further development of new formats: engaging attendees in content creation through questionnaires, and involving them in the identification of topics and choice of speakers. In 2019, those will be less likely to be chosen on the strength of their celebrity status. TED Talks has sparked a whole new way of presenting information, emphasising knowledge, business insight and emotional connection to the audience.
The full report can be found here.