2017 Meetings Industry Trends Reveal Sunny Outlook

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Meeting Professionals International (MPI) has released its quarterly Meetings Outlook report. The report presents trends and predictions that MPI members believe will have a major impact on the meetings industry. In the Spring 2017 edition, meeting planners are optimistic about increased budgets, meeting space availability and attendance.

Here are key highlights from the report:

1. Audiovisual (A/V) is more important than ever. Meeting planners are increasingly forced to compete with smartphones and tablets for attention, so impressive and innovative A/V setups are crucial. Event professionals can play with out-of-the-box ideas such as interactive displays and virtual reality setups, but taking on the latest technology will cost a pretty penny. According to the survey, a growing number of planners see A/V as an important budget item—and they’re willing to spend more of their budget on it.

2. Meeting budgets are rising. Luckily, planners who want to invest in A/V will likely have more to spend. Fifty-two percent of those surveyed anticipate favorable budgets for their events and just 20 percent expect an unsatisfactory event budget. At the end of last year, just 45 percent of respondents had a positive outlook for their event spend, while 28 percent of planners were unhappy with their budgets.

3. Meeting space availability is up. For the past few years, meeting professionals have been working in a sellers’ market. Demand has been sky-high, forcing meeting planners to compete for space. Now, the market appears to be shifting, as forty-eight percent of MPI’s survey respondents are seeing good availability for 2017. 2018 looks to be even better, with 61 percent reporting significant availability when booking meetings scheduled for next year.

4. Attendance at both live and virtual events is expected to grow. In the past, some feared that virtual events could have a negative impact on face-to-face meetings. However, that hasn’t been the case. Instead, virtual meetings and video broadcasts have become tools that planners can use to enhance their live events. Both forms of meetings are expected to grow in the future. Fifty-five percent of planners predict live attendance will increase, while 57 percent expect virtual attendance to grow.

5. Contingency planning is top-of-mind. Terrorism and protests continue to dominate news headlines, bringing security concerns and risk management to the top of every planner’s to-do list. Well-prepared planners must take many important steps, such as carefully choosing a venue with a strong security plan, anticipating possible injury or illness and preparing for potential technology failures.

6. U.S. travel policies are impacting meeting and event professionals. Forty-six percent of U.S.-based meeting planners believe the Trump administration’s travel policies are bad for business. Hotels are seeing cancellations by international travelers who are uncertain whether the United States is open to them. Planners working with international attendees should be aware of the potential for delays or cancellations due to visa issues and airport inspections.