Meetings Forecast: Modest Growth With Bright Spots

by Harvey Chipkin

Meetings and events will experience moderate growth in 2014, highlighted by a number of major global events. That’s the outlook from the meetings and events division of Carlson Wagonlit Travel, which recently released its industry trends report for 2014.

The “2014 Meeting & Events Trends” report from CWT Meetings & Events predicts a steady increase of 1% to 2% in the number of business-related meetings and events in 2014.

Mega-events in 2014
At the same time, it anticipates a “halo effect” from major events like the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, the FIFA World Cup in Brazil, the Winter Olympics and Paralympics Games in Sochi, Russia. Some large corporations may seek to tap into the popularity of these mega-events for their own gatherings, according to CWT.

Otherwise, Carlson Wagonlit forecast the persistence of recent trends that reflect a relatively flat global economy. Among those trends are:

•    Customized content: With the growing use of Big Data, planners will tailor and adapt events to suit the requirements of individual attendees, including by providing personalized invitations, individualized mobile itineraries on arrival and interactive voting onsite.

•    Smaller in scale: Clients will hold more events, but they will be smaller.

•    Meetings close by: Domestic and short-haul destinations will continue to dominate for reasons of cost. The counterweight to this trend will be those big events in places like Brazil and Russia.

•    SMM goes global: Companies will continue to consolidate their Strategic Meetings Management programs, seeking global suppliers who can offer global support and cost savings.

•    Call for creativity:  Clients will be seeking strong creative solutions for making meetings work without sacrificing crucial business functions like safety and security and travel policy compliance.

•    Onsite connectivity: Technology will be an important tool in obtaining real-time feedback during an event. Event hosts will use the information gathered to shape the remaining agenda of events to ensure that attendee needs are being met. Complementing that trend will be the growing use of social media and apps to engage attendees pre-event, during events and post-event.

•    ROI is critical: The mandate that every penny spent on an event must show a return on investment will remain in full force as more tools provide cost savings, transparency and efficiency.

CWT Meetings & Events comprises 1,600 event specialists in 75 countries; they participate in more than 35,000 events annually for customers.

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