Editor's Blog

It's crystal ball time again...
It’s the beginning of a brand spanking new year, with Christmas already long forgotten, resolutions flying around all over the place and the alluring promise of brighter days on the horizon.

It also means it’s the time of year that PR firms across the land swamp my inbox with their Nostradamus impressions (pictured) as they try to predict what the coming 12 months will bring for the meeting and event industry.

Some of these predictions can be a little, well, predictable, such as the GM of a country house hotel forecasting a rise in events at – would you believe it – country house hotels. But in and amongst the shameless self-promotion there is inevitably an interesting nugget or two to mull over.

And, luckily for you, I’ve been panning my inbox with extreme care to make sure that only the gold gets through. So without further ado, here’s a cherry-picked guide to what’s going to be hot in 2018...

Jane Longhurst, chief executive of the Meetings Industry Association

“Over the next 12 months as we continue to face the uncertainties and challenges caused by leaving the European Union, organisations in the sector will come under increasing pressure to retain and look after their talented staff.

“From our own research examining the mental wellbeing of the sector, we are extremely aware that the industry both needs and requires more compassionate workplaces to make it a more desirable and rewarding place to work. A key part of the mia's work for 2018 will be supporting the sector with a number of dedicated workshops to create environments to foster improved wellbeing.”

Paul Martins, director of sales at Cavendish Venues

“Given the current political instability across the world with Brexit and recent controversial election results, confidence for firms to spend more on larger events may be more hit and miss. Discussions surrounding challenges such as staffing levels and expenditure will become even more significant. If living costs increase and there is difficulty attracting skilled event professionals and employees with a sufficient high-work ethic, service levels may be stretched and profit margins reviewed.”

Tracey Chappell, national sales manager of stadia and concessions at Venuelior

“Throughout 2017 we have seen the rise of bespoke apps becoming a key feature of events and conferences, as venues move to collaborate with brands to create event-specific features. The use of these apps will continue into 2018, with the integration of virtual and augmented reality becoming increasingly important as another form of delegate participation.”

Diane Waldron, director of sales and marketing at the QEII Centre

“Wellness breaks in the conference and meetings world are going to become a much higher priority in 2018, as the millennial generation are far more conscious of their health and wellbeing. The trend towards looking after yourself is also extending to choice of location for events, as organisers take into account every aspect of the experience for delegates.”

Petra Clayton, managing director at Custard Communications

“The GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) comes into force on 25 May 2018; inevitably this will bring challenges but also opportunities in the way we handle marketing and sales data in the industry. We believe marketing budgets are likely to become more balanced across each channel and feature an increase in more face to face opportunities.

Mark Spivey, director of international sales at Maritim Hotels

“The venue itself is playing an increasingly crucial role in the success of an event. As such, venues will take great care to blur the lines between accommodation and meeting, ensuring delegates will not be able to tell where the venue stops, and the event begins. This will spread to all aspects of the venue – restaurant, bar, lobby and communal areas will function as an ongoing, live extension of the event.”

Ian Lucas, founder of group travel expert Red7

“The real trendsetters in group travel will be heading to Malta and Croatia next year. They are both destinations that are really on the up and have a lot to offer groups of all different compositions. Just like discovering Adele before she made it big, those that visit Malta or a Croatian island next year before they become standard group locations will have a real sense of uncovering a hidden gem!”

Jennifer Young, head of ConferenceLeeds

“As always, quality will be front of mind for conference organisers, as well as for the delegates attending. With such a vast amount of choice on offer when it comes to venues and the services that they offer, it’s essential that high standards are maintained across all aspects of an event. With this in mind it is important that conference venues ensure that their catering is exceptional. It is not only one of the largest expenses when putting on an event, but it also give delegates the time to discuss ideas and network – which is vital for the success of a conference.”

Kristian Valk, CEO of Hotelchamp

“The CMA’s decision to investigate the accuracy of booking sites comes at a crucial time for the hotel industry. With hotels becoming increasingly dependent on these third-party booking websites, they are unable to compete directly with the sorts of strong-arm tactics the investigation hopes to uncover.

“This investigation may see a shift in 2018 that hotels try to push direct bookings as a way to avoid passing further costs to the consumer by using a booking site middleman.”

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  • Anonymous User 04/01/2018

    This is very funny Gareth. Who doesn't enjoy a Nostradamus reference.