Outlook 2019: Trends to watch

Geopolitical tensions are not enough to put a damper on inbound business events performance in the region, while Asian bookers are demanding more personalisation and smarter use of their event budget.

Rajeev Kohli
SITE president 2016 and 2017, joint managing director,
Creative Travel India

Budget increases
SITE partnered with the Incentive Research Foundation (IRF) and Financial and Insurance Conference Professionals (FICP) in 2018 to deliver the first-ever Incentive Travel Industry Index representing the views of more than 1,000 senior incentive travel professionals in 86 countries.

Fifty-four per cent of buyers predict the per person median in 2019 will be US$4,000 – same as last year – but $1,000 more than the 2016 figure. Per person average for corporate buyers is US$8,151 and per person average for agencies is US$5,193. Some companies are reporting per person investments of as much as $50,000.

Rise in the number of qualifiers
Globally 65 per cent of all buyers are increasing the number of qualifiers – 58 per cent in US, 67 per cent in the EU and 73 per cent in Asia. Incentive houses reported a 71 per cent increase in 2018 compared to 54 per cent in 2017.

Inclusion in incentive travel programmes
Eighty-six per cent of buyers highlighted wellness – yoga, healthy meals, etc – and wellness at 86 per cent trumps corporate social responsibility (CSR) at 74 per cent. CSR has fallen out of favour, in particular with corporate buyers, down from 94 per cent in 2017 to 73 per cent in 2018).

Noor Ahmad Hamid
Regional director, Asia-Pacific, ICCA

Greater love for legacy
We see more and more international associations making “legacy” a central part of their thinking and activities. Creating a lasting legacy has become pivotal to their strategy, as many associations begin to look beyond traditional planning.

Shift in role of meetings industry
Meetings once conceived as being “part of tourism” are now seen as delivering “economic and societal impact”.

New focus of international associations
They include knowledge or skill transfer in developing countries, building the local community, advocating issues of relevance or advancing future intellectual leaders to leave a lasting positive impact on the destinations they visit.

This is the primary reason why ICCA has collaborated with BestCities Global Alliance to launch the Incredible Impacts Programme with the value of meetings tagged in areas such as legacy development, sustainability and accessibility. Launched in 2017, Incredible Impacts grants are awarded to associations who strive to ensure their events make a difference.

Benson Tang
Regional director,
Asia Association of Corporate Travel Executives (ACTE)

The power of technology
Harnessing technology – artificial intelligence, chatbots, blockchain, etc – to manage corporate travel is on the radar for travel managers to consider in 2019.

The rise of millennials
By 2020, millennials will comprise half of the global workforce and are forecast to account for almost 50 per cent of corporate travel spend. To enhance the centricity of these travellers will be paramount in 2019.

Rising trade tensions
According to the International Monetary Fund, disputes between the US and the rest of the world could cost the global economy US$430 billion. With the US “especially vulnerable” to escalating tariffs, this could affect corporate travel expenditure in 2019.

Mark Cochrane
Regional manager,
Asia-Pacific, UFI The Global Association of the Exhibition Industry

Mergers and acquisition
Following Informa’s acquisition of UBM and private equity firm, Blackstone’s acquisition of Global Sources, Clarion and PennWell, 2019 should be a year of more deals both big and small.

Mega venues
NECC (National Exhibition and Convention Center) opened in Shanghai in 2015 adding 400,000m2 to the market there. In 2019, Shenzhen World will boost that city’s capacity by an incredible 500,000m2. India is also, finally, adding significant capacity in Mumbai and Delhi. Big venues usually unlock big growth in exhibitions.

South-east Asia’s potential
The exhibition markets in the region from the large (in Thailand) to the small (in Cambodia and Vietnam) have been posting significant growth for more than three years. We expect that to continue in 2019 and beyond.

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