Meetings

Early Meeting Predictions for 2016

By / Oct 2, 2015 (Fuse/Thinkstock)

We’re three-quarters of the way through 2015, meaning it’s already time to think about 2016 and what it will bring for the association meetings industry. A new report makes some predictions.

As this post publishes, we are 90 days away from 2016, which means it’s just about time for every industry to begin releasing predictions for the upcoming year. (And it could also be time for you to start thinking about those New Year’s resolutions.)

As attrition and cancellation terms are becoming stricter, supplier negotiations will be more important than ever to meeting planners.

One of the first to weigh in on the outlook for meetings and events was Carson Wagonlit Travel (CWT), which recently released its “2016 Meetings and Events Forecast” [PDF]. The good news is that it predicts positive growth for the industry in the coming 12 months.

“While the news of overall growth is positive, the report also sounds a note of caution,” CWT said in a press release. “As attrition and cancellation terms are becoming stricter, supplier negotiations will be more important than ever to meeting planners.”

Here’s a deeper look at the report’s global predictions:

Sellers’ market in North America. Globally, hotel prices are predicted to increase by 2.5 percent next year. However, since demand in North America will continue to grow at a rate that exceeds supply, sellers will have the upper hand, and prices on our continent are expected to rise 4.3 percent.

Buyers’ market in Europe. A fragile economic recovery, coupled with a 10 percent decrease in hotel rooms under contract compared to June 2014, has given buyers greater negotiating power in Europe. However, the report also says that “as economic conditions improve and demand grows, prices may increase due to lack of supply.”

Unpredictability in Asia Pacific. The unpredictable economy and health-related scares in Asia Pacific could cause challenges in the region. But the report also mentions that hotel growth in China and India could drive up group sizes and prices.

Given these predictions, CWT offers a range of practical tips for meeting planners:

Plan ahead. Lead time for registration and venue contracts continues to shrink. However, if planners can increase the lead time for their larger events, they can boost negotiating power, which could lead to better revenues.

Fuel your attendees on a budget. Food and beverage continues to be a significant driver of per-attendee costs. Adjust F&B practices to manage budgets while promoting the healthy alternatives that remain popular with attendees. One idea is to move from bottled to tap water.

Limit risk with hotels. Be aware that some hotels in high-demand markets no longer hold space when responding to availability requests. Ensure that internal decision makers are aware, and decide if you can be flexible on dates.

And, separate from the CWT report, there’s even some good news on the airline front: In the United States, airline prices are expected to increase only 0.5 percent in 2016. And if you’re in Canada, you’ll be able to pocket some savings: Canadian airfares are expected to drop by 5 percent. This will make it easier for attendees and exhibitors to get to your meetings.

What predictions do you have for the association meetings industry in 2016? Let us know in the comments.

Samantha Whitehorne

Samantha Whitehorne is editorial director of Associations Now. More »

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