Every industry comes with unpredictability and uncertainty, but the meetings and events space continues to see positive growth every day. This is reflected by AMEX M&E’s 2020 Global Meetings and Events Forecast. The survey of meeting professionals predicted bigger budgets in the industry, a shift in demand for experiences over logistics, increased policy compliance adoption and an optimistic outlook on tech.
1. Bigger Budgets
The report projected an increase in spending on events around the world. Although a modest increase, North America could see a 1.6 percent increase in spend. Central and South America lead the way, though, with a projected increase of 2.6 percent. And while total meeting spend is predicted to increase across all regions next year, Asia pacific will see the most modest increase at a mere 1.3 percent.
Overall meeting spend is predicted to increase by 2.1 percent, and cost per attendee per day is expected to increase by 1.9 percent for incentives and special events. When asked about a hypothetical budget increase, 30 percent of those surveyed said they’d focus on improving the onsite experience, up 5 percent from 2018.
2. Experiences > Logistics
It’s no secret that experiences are trending across the board in the meetings industry. Another report found that young travelers and attendees are traveling not to escape, but to gather experiences and perspectives. It’s projected that next year 54.5 percent of meeting planners will prioritize attendee experience instead of logistics. Planners are aware of the changing landscape, and those surveyed for the report indicated that hands-on experiences would be prioritized over logistical elements to drive better engagement.
3. Policy Compliance Adoption
Two out of three organizations have implemented formal approval processes. The report reported how this will only increase. Essentially, meetings management policies will become increasingly robust next year, and compliance levels are predicted to reach 85 percent across regions. After years of promoting policy compliance to protect data, it is actually being implemented at a steady rate and will be done globally.
While attendee engagement is valued globally, in Europe meeting professionals face specific challenges relating to the General Data Protection Regulation, GDPR, and the political instability caused by Brexit. Planners must be mindful of “how” they deliver an event experience while remaining GDPR compliant. Safety, security and preferred suppliers are the components most likely to have explicit language in meetings management policies. And in a time with GDPR, planners are addressing growing compliance and data privacy demands in their policy updates.
4. Optimistic Tech Outlook
Technology and technological advancements in every industry continue to increase and won’t be going away anytime soon. Planners are integrating different tools that in turn mirror how attendees interact with tech in their daily lives, all in hopes to foster memorable event experiences. Earlier this year, Ashley Case, director of client services, meetings and incentives at Cadence in San Diego said, “Whether you’re using event tech for data management, personal preference tracking, appointments and personalized agendas, decrease conference check-in lines, event security, live polling, social networking, gamification and engagement, surveys, or any other fabulous functionality, it is a win!”
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In North America, 59 percent of the meeting planner respondents are optimistic about their ability to incorporate tech to enhance the attendee experience. Central and South America are the most optimistic about planners’ abilities to incorporate tech to enhance meeting experiences, which was reported at 82 percent. Survey respondents in the regions are predicting a stable year for the meetings and events industry, and this is the only region where projected budget increases could match the expected rate increases.