The revenue per available hotel room (RevPAR) across the conference and meetings market is predicted to grow by 3.5 percent by the end of the year, thanks in large part to a sustained rise in occupancy numbers and daily room rates, according to a new report.

By contrast, the quarterly Hotel Horizons report, compiled by IACC and CBRE Hotels’ Americas Research, predicts that the national average will be 3.1 percent.

While the ongoing boom in new properties has led many analysts to predict a turn toward a buyer’s market, with the supply of rooms simply outstripping the demand, the report suggests that the transition isn’t happening in the meetings industry yet. Citing the higher occupancy numbers, IACC CEO Mark Cooper says, “The figures predicted are showing that conference- and meeting-focused venues are, for the first time in at least five years, in line with the wider lodging market when it comes to occupancy rate.”

Unfortunately, this means higher prices for attendees. Forecasts for 2018 in general predicted higher costs across hotels, airlines and venues, and it is a trend that will continue if occupancy remains high.

Those financial winds might change in the next few years. Market-wide, the RevPAR is expected to slow to 3 percent in 2019. But for now, Cooper says, “We’re seeing fantastic growth in group-room revenue pace within IACC certified conference venues, up 8.7 percent, with the strongest group volume results reported in the Midwest and the Northeast.”

Given this growth, more venues are investing in meetings-minded improvements, from creative and flexible meeting spaces to collaborative technology. Overall, the report predicts conference and meeting venues in the United States will range from 64.5 to 66.4 percent occupancy during the next five years.