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Meetings and events demand to grow 5-10 per cent in 2019, finds CWT report

CWT's 2019 Meetings & Events Future Trends report also found the average size of meetings will rise in most regions

Pictured: Kurt Ekert, president and CEO of Carlson Wagonlit Travel

Meetings and events demand will grow by up to 10 per cent in 2019, according to CWT Meetings & Events’ 2019 Meetings & Events Future Trends report.

And the report also finds that the average size of meetings will rise in nearly every region.

“The global meetings and events industry can look forward to a buoyant 2019,” said Kurt Ekert, president and CEO of Carlson Wagonlit Travel. “On top of growing demand worldwide, we also expect global hotel rates to rise 3.7 per cent, and flight prices 2.6 per cent.”

Airfares in Western Europe are predicted to be the fastest-growing worldwide, with a projected increase of 4.8 per cent in 2019, while hotel prices in Western Europe are forecast to see the greatest increase of any region globally, rising 5.6 per cent.

The report also finds that mature European markets are demanding enhanced engagement and creativity – making events an ideal showcase for the power of face-to-face in a digitally-focused world.

The data shows that the best time for booking meetings and events activity for small groups is 30 days out, while for large groups the sweet spot is 75 days. Outside of these booking windows, buyers are giving up 5-10 per cent in potential savings.

Strategic Meetings Management (SMM) will gain traction in regions outside North America, where it is more mature. The report finds that SMM can cut the time spent on sourcing by 22 per cent and deliver an average 19 per cent additional savings on room nights.

“SMM tips the scales back in favour of clients by shifting sales towards preferred suppliers and analysing demand to work out the optimum times to secure the best venues, hotels and flights – and lock in the best prices,” said Cindy Fisher, senior vice president and global head, CWT M&E.

There will also be a growing demand for unorthodox spaces and activities, particularly in the mature incentive markets in the US and Europe. Suppliers want to make the experience more memorable. Hotels are investing in their meetings and events capabilities. The use of unusual outdoor spaces like treehouses, rooftops and even islands, along with ‘Festivalisation’ will be key trends for 2019.

Content will also experience a major shift. 2019 will see further development of new formats: engaging attendees in content creation through questionnaires and involving them in the identification of topics and choice of speakers. In 2019, those will be less likely to be chosen on the strength of their celebrity status. TED talks have sparked a whole new way of presenting information, emphasising knowledge, business insight and emotional connection to the audience.

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