Report: What Lies Ahead for Meetings in 2017

A new report suggests that events will continue growing next year, but due to narrowing GDP growth, planners should work to rein in costs.

This year has been fairly consistent for the meetings industry, and next year promises to be more of the same—but with a couple of wrinkles.

That’s according to a recent forecast from Carlson Wagonlit Travel (CWT) Meetings and Events, which finds that meetings will continue their growth globally, despite a slight downward trend in global domestic product. That may mean client spending dips. But meetings planners can continue to succeed in this environment if they play it smart.

“Heading into 2017, our forecast predicts significant growth in meetings and events for regions around the world,” CWT’s vice president and global head, Cindy Fisher, said in a statement. “By being flexible with timing and destinations, planners can take full advantage of the current market to optimize their meetings and events and produce better results.”

A few key points from the forecast:

Food gets costly. The 2017 Meetings and Events Forecast notes that food and beverage prices are expected to rise globally due to a variety of factors, including attendee preferences. “The recent uptick corresponds primarily with an increase in production prices, changes in imports and exports due to environmental conditions, and an increase in attendee requests for special dietary options, including gluten-free, low-cholesterol, low-carb, vegetarian and vegan, all of which cost more to prepare,” the report states.

Uncertainty plays a role. The report suggests that political events around the world, including in Brazil, Europe, the Middle East, and the United States, could raise longer-term economic concerns that could shake things up.

The sharing economy extends to meeting spaces. Hotels may have more to worry about than Airbnb, according to the report. It cites the rise of startups like the Berlin-based firm Spacebase, which rents out nontraditional event venues, often at an hourly rate. “Promoters boast up to 40 percent savings, while critics suggest foot-for-foot equal pricing,” the report states. But hotels still hold an edge in certain respects: “Unlike hotels, however, many sharing economy spaces do not offer attendee accommodations onsite—often a deal breaker.”

Hotel rooms abound. The report notes that in North America, hotel supply is expected to outpace demand for the first time since 2009—which means a buyer’s market for event planners. The report cites significant growth in the number of hotels in New York, Los Angeles/Long Beach, and Dallas. But costly hotel rooms are still abundant in cities such as San Francisco, Boston, and Washington, DC.

You can check out more highlights from the report on the CWT website [PDF].


Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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