In Meetings, Trends

What storms are brewing for the meetings industry, or are calm days ahead? As the industry ramps up for a new year, we’re gauging current trends and predictions to develop a meetings industry forecast for our clients. Here are four patterns we’re watching now:

Costs will continue to rise.

The meetings industry is certainly more stable and robust than it was a decade ago, but it’s not all silver linings. The 2018 Meetings and Events Future Trends report states that the average cost per attendee per day went up in 2017 and projects that costs will continue to rise in the coming year. Here in North America, the cost went up 3%, with hotels and airfare likely to increase 2.5% in 2018. The bottom line? Planners may need to prepare themselves for some tough conversations. Articulating the strategic value of the meeting will be important so that decision makers view the meeting as an investment and not just another expenditure.

Second-tier cities are gaining strength.

According to the 2018 Global Meetings and Events Forecast from American Express, the top ten cities based on meetings and event activity are big names like Orlando, Chicago, New York and Dallas. No surprise. But check out Nashville, which has moved up the list from nine to seven. Planners give this second-tier city kudos, noting that the city’s efforts to build its capacity and promote itself as a meeting destination have paid off. Seattle’s another city to watch. The Visit Seattle convention and visitors bureau has repositioned the city as an agent for innovation, replacing traditional FAM and networking events with the Event Innovation Forum. At the inaugural forum in September, meeting planners had the opportunity to connect with leaders from the innovative companies (think Amazon, Microsoft, Starbucks, Expedia) that have made the city their home.

Immersive and purposeful are musts, not maybes.

Shared, immersive experiences bring meeting attendees together and help foster group conversation. According to reporting from Skift, augmented reality (AR) may be the wave of the future for meetings. Unlike virtual reality, which takes the user into a virtual world, augmented reality uses GPS and smartphone camera technology to project images and information onto the real world. Augmented reality lets everyone in the meeting room experience the same thing. Keep an eye on Apple’s next generation of phones, which will feature ARKit, a new platform that allows you to create AR experiences.

At IMEX America, which was held in October, panelists and planners were abuzz about “purposeful meetings,” a trend that promises to grow in 2018. Groups crave meeting experiences that offer insights and deeper meaning. It’s important to connect all of the meeting’s “dots” (venue, room set-up, f&b, etc.) to a clearly defined purpose. What’s more, the trend to take individual differences and preferences into account will only get stronger. Participants want their personal dietary needs, wellness and exercise goals, and learning styles considered. The American Express 2018 meetings industry forecast even provides profiles of the most common attendee types (ranging from the Inspiration Seeker to the Reluctant Attendee) with tips on how to design meetings to best address their needs.

But being prepared for everything will be…everything.

From Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico to the wildfires of Northern California, major meetings destinations are dealing with rebuilding (both logistics and perception) while trying to make sure that future business is not permanently displaced. At IMEX America, which took place just 10 days after the Las Vegas shooting, planners expressed that one of the top things they care about now is security, both physical and digital, according to BizBash reporting. Now more than ever, the meeting industry’s ability to plan for every contingency will help weather the turbulent world we live in.


Want to talk about how these patterns will impact your business? Contact Lynn Kaniper at lkaniper@danacommunications.com or 609.466.9187, ext. 117 today.

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