There is a need to focus on balance and belonging in the global meetings and events (M&E) sector according to Accor’s Meeting Expectations: The Future of Meetings & Events report.
The report also addresses the transformation that the M&E sector has undergone in recent years and explores the fundamental shifts impacting the industry as it continues to recover and drive strategic growth for 2024 and beyond.
Accor’s Meetings & Events Industry Forecast survey data reinforces this predicted growth trajectory. The majority (78%) of respondents said that their or their clients’ expenditure had increased since 2022, with 36% saying it had increased by more than 25%.
Looking to 2024, the growth is expected to continue with 80% of surveyed experts expecting increased spend in 2024, with 30% saying it would rise by more than 25%.
According to the research, continued growth is forecast across all meeting and event sizes in 2024. Three-quarters (78%) expect the number of small and medium-sized meetings (under 100 delegates) to increase next year, and the same number said they expect the number of meetings of over 100 delegates to increase.
More than half (57%) predict a rise in large meetings (over 300 delegates) to increase and three-fourths (78%) said it would be “very important” for their industry to attend exhibitions, conferences and trade shows in 2024.
Reconfirming the value of meeting in real life, 33% of meetings planners expect in excess of 40% more revenue from face-to-face meetings versus a virtual meeting, and the majority (80%) would not be happy to use video conferencing to close deals in 2024.
The new Accor report also revealed five trends expected to shape the growth of the industry.
- Softer productivity. The work-hard, play-hard ethos once associated with business and events is changing in line with the demands of new lifestyles. Key takeaway: Balance purpose and productivity.
- Selling belonging. The meetings and events sector is all about one thing: People. Human connection and fostering a sense of belonging are the cornerstones of successful event design. Key takeaway: Celebrate the human connection. Sell belonging.
- Designing experiences. Event bookers are looking for a return on their investment, but they are more than ever looking for “ROX,” a return on experience. Key takeaway: Create memorable experiences that forge meaningful connections.
- Green gatherings. Positive impact is the differentiator, and, more than ever, the sector has the green light to drive change. Green credentials are no longer a bonus for events – they will be a deciding factor in who secures the business. Key takeaway: Sustainability should be the first thought, not the afterthought.
- Disruptive technology. In-person conferences are now a vital way of bringing together people who may only see one another through laptop screens. Key takeaway: Digital has reach. Face-to-face has value. Being in the room matters.
Coming out of the pandemic there were fears that the events industry might struggle to reclaim its audience. Today that audience has largely returned and is expected to rise far beyond its 2019 peak in the years to come.
This is great news for the sector but it also brings fresh challenges and opportunities that will alter the way events are booked, planned and executed.