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meetings industry forecast

For Planners, Boom Time Also Means Crunch Time

Industrywide forecast from a major meetings-management firm sees strong growth but also big challenges next year.

The recently released "2019 Meeting & Events Future Trends Report" from CWT Meetings & Events brings some positive news about the meetings and events industry in 2019, and a few warnings.
With many of its findings derived from CWT's own client research, the report notes that group sizes are expected to grow by 14 percent at 2019 events. And even though the pipeline for new hotel rooms in North America is quite strong, "there are very few 'big box' properties with 500-plus rooms and extensive conference facilities being built," says the report. "This is not expected to change, given that the business models of the major hotel companies concentrate on expanding the select service, midscale, and budget brands."
As a result, some groups will have a tough time securing all the space they need and might have to adapt their programs to work within a smaller footprint. One exception: tech companies, many of which are adapting to demand from attendees for more customized and experiential events by holding smaller gatherings of up to 50 people in several cities on a multi-month tour.
CWT's data also found that organizations with strategic meetings management programs that use volume purchasing to consolidate the number of suppliers servicing their events save both time and money. Specifically, organizations save 22 percent in personnel hours devoted to event coordination and 19 percent on guest room costs by using a more centralized internal program.
In fact, SMM programs could play an even larger role in 2019 because of the recent cuts in third-party commissions by several major hotel brands. "Commissions are a way for us to keep costs down for [events]," says Rachel Lunderborg, global director, solutions & analytics for CWT Meetings & Events. "The cuts will force buyers to become more strategic to make up for any increased costs. This includes putting in place preferred agreements with suppliers and focusing on other terms and conditions. It's really about negotiating harder over the business terms to make up the difference." She adds that meeting buyers could also relieve some price pressure in 2019 by focusing their volume and spend with suppliers who have not cut third-party commissions.
Interestingly, while CWT's report found that SMM programs are more mature among European companies than those in North America, return on investment practices are not as deeply embedded in companies outside North America. "While the practice is continually spoken about, ROI has not yet taken hold in a significant way," says Ian Cummings, vice president, EMEA. "Our challenge is to get event planners and CMOs thinking about their [ROI] programs at least six months in advance."
To view the "2019 Meeting & Events Future Trends Report," click here.

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