The tide is turning for meetings and events as the industry enters a sellers’ market. The shift will require a new approach by meeting planners, according to a CWT Meetings & Events report.
The M&E Forecast is a supplement to the company’s 2014 Travel Price Forecast, which predicted increasing costs for airfare, hotels, ground transportations, and meetings and events.
The data indicate that providers will be successful in raising prices around the world next year, as demand continues to outpace supply in most locations, according to Tom Wagner, vice president for the Americas, CWT Meetings & Events.
As costs increase, “we typically see planners pull back on group size to maintain their budgets,” he told Travel Market Report.
But that won’t be the case everywhere in 2014, Wagner added.
“The Asia-Pacific region will see an increase of 4% to 5% in cost per attendee per day and their group sizes are expected to climb between 3% to 5%. That indicates healthy M&E demand in that region.”
“Group sizes were more directly connected to price,” last year, said Wagner. “Where prices were going up significantly, group sizes went down [even in Asia-Pacific], and where prices were flat or increasing just a bit, planners were willing to increase group size slightly.”
Prepare to negotiate
Wagner said the changing landscape means planners should focus on the big picture and prepare to negotiate on total spend.
“The spending that is freed up, which could be up to 25%, can then be reinvested into the event to enhance the creative elements and attendee experience, leaving them with great memories and increased motivation to accomplish the goals that were identified during the meeting.”
6 tips for planners
CWT in its M&E Supplement offered the following recommendations for planners dealing with the shifting outlook:
1. Define the goal. Clearly define the meeting’s goal and how to measure its effectiveness.
2. Consider the big picture. Understand external factors and how they impact M&E suppliers and, ultimately, you. Examples: in your planning include economic indicators such as gross domestic product and inflation, and major events like the FIFA World Cup in soccer.
3. Book in advance. Book at least 45 days out for best availability and price for smaller meetings, longer for larger meetings or for those with unique requirements.
4. Invest in attendees. Take savings from improved overall M&E management and put it back into creative elements and attendee experience so that attendees leave with both great memories and increased motivation.
5. Broaden the approach. Consider secondary cities, alternative dates and midscale hotels that may deliver more for the budget.
6. Negotiate on total spend. Go beyond sleeping rooms and meeting space to include food and beverage, audio/visual support including Internet business center charges, and miscellaneous elements.