As we welcome in 2018, new trends will shape the events and meetings industry. The good news is all signs point to another banner year. While societal movements and technology advancements may raise some concerns, this people-first industry remains at the forefront of where marketing, wellness and hospitality are going.
1. Consolidation Is King
Organizations will continue to streamline operations so that travel, meetings and event programming will fall under one roof. The Global Business Travel Association reports 64 percent of meetings, events and/or travel programs are either fully consolidated or in the process of consolidating. Benefits include transparency, increasing efficiency and decreasing costs.
2. Anti-Tourism Is Mounting
One outgrowth of the growing nationalism movement in this country is tourism is being targeted. This is manifesting itself in challenges to Uber and Airbnb, reports IMEX. But with challenges come opportunities. Says Carina Bauer, CEO of the IMEX Group: “The industry must continue to strongly communicate the short and long-term benefits that meetings, events and incentive travel bring to a destination—both in terms of the high impact direct benefits as well as longer-term indirect benefits associated with the development of knowledge and innovation economies.”
3. Women Will Keep Moving Up
The events industry is primarily comprised of women—except when it’s not. Namely, C-level positions remain elusive and some sectors remaining slow to integration. But with the #MeToo movement exposing bad behavior among male executives, there will be more room for women to grow. Organizations are stepping to the forefront to assist. Connect has hosted two “Women in Sports Tourism” forums; IMEX is launching a “She Means Business” conference in Frankfurt, Germany, in 2018; and event tech entrepreneurs Leonora Valvo and Marie-Claire Andrews have launched womenineventtech.org to serve women often overlooked in technology-related fields and events.
4. Business Won’t Slow Down
A new report from Financial & Insurance Conference Professionals shows 89 percent of suppliers expect business to increase or remain the same based on the frequency and rates of RFP submissions.
5. The Chinese Are Coming
WeChat reports stats finding Chinese travelers are choosing the U.S. over more countries. To translate that into more business, hotels are employing WeChat, a social media app to target more than 120 million potential guests.
6. Events Will Be in Retreat Mode
Kindred Hotels predicts conferences will feel more like retreats than traditional meetings. The company says planners will include longer breaks and more free time in the schedule to allow attendees to soak in their experience and surroundings. Local Measure, a location-based customer intelligence platform concentrating on tourism and hospitality, says the trend extends to wellness. It predicts Pilates will give way to silent retreats as the first wave of wellness gives way to new opportunities.