2019 meetings & events future trends
2019 Meetings & Events Future Trends
Data-driven insight and expert analysis to maximize your results
Welcome to our seventh annual meetings & events future trends report
Strategic meetings management
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Examining the global and regional outlook for the year ahead, and the industry trends that will shape 2019 and beyond. Our goal is to offer insight and ideas that will drive even greater success for your meetings & events (M&E).
The trends show more events of every size. Whether your meeting is for 20 or 2,000, this report aims to be your guide for getting maximum return on investment, attendee engagement and value creation.
There’s a palpable buzz around the technology that feeds into enhancing delegate experience, data capture and simpler logistics.
Online booking tools for venues and group transport are set to boom in 2019, while almost half of you are taking advantage of CWT Meetings & Events' expertise in strategic meetings management (SMM).
All the pieces of the puzzle combine to create events that will bring a real return on your strategic business objectives. I wish you every success with your meetings and events program in 2019.
Industry spotlight from our sponsor
As a trusted global partner of Carlson Wagonlit Travel, American Airlines is delighted to sponsor the CWT Meetings & Events Future Trends report.
An upsurge in demand for meetings and events globally points to the transformative power of gatherings as a catalyst not just for growth in profits, but for world change.
Growing demand is being met head-on with advances in creativity and technology. It’s crucial to stay one step ahead of developments in all areas, however, one area that’s often the most neglected is group transportation.
American Airlines is excited to relaunch our new and improved Group & Meeting Travel (GMT), and we are fully committed to meeting the needs of your travelers.
Our enhanced GMT product oﬀers group fares and special pricing for meeting, conference, and incentive travel. We have the largest global network oﬀering service to North and South America, Europe, the Caribbean and Asia Paciﬁc with access to a robust product oﬀering including private fares, zone fares, meeting and conference discounts.
We also offer a ﬂexible ticketing process for fees, deposits, refunds, exchanges and cancellations, seat assignments and name changes. If you have travelers coming from multiple cities, our GMT program has you covered, with options for groups originating in various locations heading to the same destination.
With our group travel offering, we’re proud to join forces with CWT Meetings and Events to make groundbreaking events a reality for more organizations around the world. As we all know, it’s events that nurture the best ideas and connections.
Group travel doesn’t get any easier than this.
More information is available at aa.com/groups
The big event
Surging demand: A global overview
The growth in demand for meetings and events
There has never been a more exciting time for meetings and events. The growth in sophisticated venues across the globe and innovation in tech is making boundless creativity a reality. And smarter ways of using data to fine-tune the value around meetings programs are in full effect.
The digital revolution and use of social media as a key channel for sharing messaging are reinforcing the value of engagement, discussion, conversation, and networking – all areas where meetings and events triumphs.
Face-to-face is valuable – and with the latest ‘CMO Survey 2018’ from Dentsu Aegis Network finding that six in ten marketers expect budgets to rise in 2019, and Cvent’s Global Planner Sourcing Report 2018 showing numbers and size of events expanding year-over-year, it’s evident that demand is set to grow in 2019.
Meanwhile, a pipeline of hotel and venue openings outside major cities is bringing additional choice at a reduced cost – sometimes up to 40% less – for meeting planners who can be flexible on location.
Demand for meetings far outstrips supply of venues and hotels as the number of meetings and budgets increase in North America, in response to the strength of the economy.
It causes challenges and we’re seeing more hotels declining to respond to request for proposals (RFPs), which is encouraging clients to increase their lead times to get the properties they want for their events.
Tony Wagner, Vice President, Americas, CWT Meetings & Events
Return on investment (ROI) is still not fully embedded in the industry. While the practice is continually spoken about, ROI has not yet taken hold in a significant way, so our challenge is to get event planners and CMOs thinking about their programs and individual events at least six months in advance.
Ian Cummings, Vice President, EMEA, CWT Meetings & Events
On the demand side, the tech and retail industries are investing heavily in the power of live experiences. These industries will be the ones to watch for innovation around destinations, venues, facilities, social media engagement, gamification and augmented reality.
Savings are certainly possible – but the key message is to plan ahead. Our research shows that the optimum time for booking meetings and events activity for small groups is 30+ days, while for large groups the sweet spot is 75+ days. Outside of these booking times, potential savings dip by 5-10%.
Consolidation of a meeting program can help with pricing. Our data shows strategic meetings management (SMM) can save 22% less time on sourcing and an average 19% additional negotiated savings on room nights.
The possibility of finding savings amid high demand is there for the taking – it’s just a matter of planning ahead for a year of events that will motivate, drive knowledge, and ultimately lead to business success.
Demand continues to outpace supply of meetings-eligible hotels. The demand for meetings, which includes accommodation, is going to be significantly challenged by a lack of inventory. Continuing industry consolidation means fewer options for buyers and that will push prices up.
Nathan Brooks, Senior Director and Global Lead, Supplier Management, CWT Meetings & Events
Regional insight: Forecast by our data
Economic growth fuels the industry
North America’s buoyant economy is driving meetings growth. Tech companies, in particular, are adapting to demand for more customized, experiential events by holding smaller meetings of 20-50 people in multiple cities on a six-monthly loop.
Increasing regulation on transparency in the pharma sector is impacting on budgets, but the cyclical nature of the global industry means that some companies - with new product launches - are investing in their meetings and events programs, while those with products coming off patent are looking to make savings of up to 30%.
Overall, the North America meetings market will continue to be driven by robust economic growth in the United States, with projections from the Carlson Wagonlit Travel (CWT) / Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) 2019 Global Travel Forecast suggesting growth of 2.8% in GDP in 2019.
Strong economic growth in the US was fueled by President Trump’s tax cuts in late 2017, but there are fears that potential trade wars with China, the European Union and even neighboring Canada and Mexico could severely hamper economic growth.
Hotel rates on the rise
Average hotel prices are likely to rise by 2.8% in North America in 2019, which will push up costs for meetings buyers. Average daily rates (ADRs) have been on the rise for the past five years.
Demand is already exceeding supply for hotel venues – particularly for larger meetings and conferences. The buoyant US market is expected to see a 14% increase in group sizes in 2019 as organizations use their meetings and events program to spur further growth.
The US pipeline for new hotels is strong with an estimated 5,300 properties currently planned, adding more than 630,000 rooms across the country (source: Lodging Econometrics).
But despite the high overall numbers, there are very few “big box” properties with 500-plus rooms and extensive conference facilities being built. This is not expected to change given the business models of the major hotel firms concentrate on expanding their “select service”, mid-scale and budget brands, which typically have limited meetings and events facilities.
Fuel prices will impact flight costs
With the higher price of oil starting to hit airline profits, there will be some inflation in average flight prices, which are expected to rise by 1.8% in 2019. The major US carriers - American Airlines, Delta, and United - are still planning to grow their capacity but have scaled back the rate of these increases due to a rise in fuel prices.
Lead times set to increase
With a tight market for meetings in 2019, lead times will increase in the US, as clients have to act earlier to secure their desired venues and dates.
Lead times for events of 100-plus attendees, which require a ballroom and breakout spaces, are now being booked between four to six months in advance, while events for 400-500 delegates are being planned six to nine months ahead. Booking more than one year in advance is becoming the norm for major conferences and conventions.
North America: Key destinations
A surge in the opening of new hotels across New York City has helped moderate rates and make the city a more attractive meetings destination. New York has added 45,000 rooms over the past 10 years taking the total up to 118,000 rooms. This upward trend is expected to continue with another 18,000 rooms due to be introduced by 2020. In addition, the US$1.5 billion expansion of the Javits Center in Manhattan, will add 1.2 million square feet of new exhibition and meeting space from 2021.
One major city seeing a hotel capacity squeeze is San Francisco, which will keep prices high – particularly as the city is already the number one meetings destination in the US.
The impact of commission cuts
Marriott’s move to cut group sales commission from 10% to 7% for bookings in the US and Canada was swiftly followed by similar commission cuts by rivals Hilton and IHG at North American properties.
This reduction in commission means organizations now face the prospect of higher costs for their meetings and events programs.
Rachel Lunderborg, Global Director, Solutions & Analytics, CWT Meetings & Events, explains what clients can do to mitigate the impact of these commission cuts, “Commissions are a way for us to keep costs down for the program. The commission cuts will force the buyer to become more strategic to make up for these increased costs by looking at control management strategies," she says, “This includes putting in place preferred agreements with suppliers and focusing on other terms and conditions. It’s really about negotiating hard over the business terms to make up the difference from the reduction in commission. Organizations have to refocus their volume and spend to those suppliers who have not cut commission. That’s where you can make a difference.”
Mixed fortunes and steady demand
The major economies of Latin America have seen very different fortunes over the past few years: Brazil and Argentina have suffered severe recessions; while Colombia and Mexico have enjoyed relatively stable GDP growth. While there are always challenges across this vast region, there are signs that improving economic conditions are helping to increase the demand for meetings.
Despite economic growth it is still expected to be relatively slow next year, coming in at 2.3%, according to the World Bank. Hotel prices are expected to fall by 1.3% in 2019, while air prices will drop by 2%.
Demand recovers in Brazil
Despite its economic troubles, Brazil is the largest economy in the region and has finally seen growth over the past 18 months. Brazil’s GDP is expected to rise by 2.5% in 2019, according to the IMF.
Economic uncertainty has meant that many organizations arranged meetings at short notice – averaging around 20 days in advance. This has started to change with more economic confidence. Clients are now looking at meetings on a quarter-by-quarter basis.
Most meetings in Brazil tend to be in domestic destinations with companies having to pay a tax if they want to hold events outside the country. This has led to the cancellation of some international meetings and helps to explain why three Brazilian cities are featured in the top five meetings destinations in Latin America.
Brazil has seen the largest growth in hotel development in recent years, particularly in the lead-up to the 2014 World Cup football tournament and 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
But the recession has led to major global hotel brands dropping properties and local companies stepping in to take their place. Some older five-star hotels have been tempted to cut services to drop down to four-star level so they can compete for meetings business in the heavily regulated pharma sector.
Rio de Janeiro’s reputation as a meetings destination has also suffered following an increase in violent crime in the city since the Olympics. However the city is still a popular option, ranking number three in the region’s top meeting destinations.
We’re moving out of a difficult economic situation in Brazil. Clients had to change the way they operated when the economy went down and find another way of organizing meetings and events. Clients are doing more events now but they are taking better care of their budget and are more engaged. They are careful with their money and how they invest it. There is more of a focus on results.
Gustavo Elbaum, Director LATAM, CWT Meetings & Events
Growth is expected to flatten in Argentina
There has been a significant increase in meetings demand in 2018 compared with 2017, as industries such as pharma, automotive and healthcare have held product launches in the country. This helped Buenos Aires make it into the top 10 list of regional destinations.
Growth is expected to flatten in 2019 following the collapse in the value of the Argentine peso and the country’s securing of a new US$50 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Varying outlooks: Colombia, Mexico, Peru and Chile
Colombia is expected to continue to be a stable market in 2019 with year-on-year growth in meetings demand, helped by more inward investment by international companies. The capital Bogota has jumped from fourth to second in our list of top Latin American destinations.
There has been no fall-off in meetings demand in Mexico following the election of Lopez Obrador in July, although he has not taken power yet. There are also lingering worries over how the ongoing renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with the US and Canada might affect the Mexican economy.
Clients in Colombia and Mexico tend to travel more frequently around the region. Cancun and Cartagena are popular destinations for meetings, while Panama City has become another option for larger events.
Other countries in the region, such as Peru and Chile continue to see stable meetings demand, although both countries are heavily reliant on the mining sector.
The forefront of growth for 2019
Asia Pacific is expected to continue growth in 2019, with the average meeting size up 3% and China seeing consistent expansion year-on-year. This is set to continue in 2019.
Countries such as Vietnam, Myanmar and the Philippines are seeing a meetings and events buzz as multinational companies establish their presence, with more inbound and outbound travel from these markets predicted for the coming year.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is forecasting GDP to rise by 5.6% next year. And the major economies of China (+6.4% in 2019) and India (+7.3%) will stay in the lead.
Travel is growing hugely in China across all sectors – it is already the world’s largest business travel market, while Chinese tourists spent a total of US$258 billion on international tourism in 2017 (source: UNWTO).
This sustained surge in demand for air travel and accommodation will continue to push up prices in the region. We are predicting airfares will rise by 3.2% in 2019 with hotel rates set to go up by 5.1%.
With such strong growth throughout the region, there is an increased willingness by organizations to spend on meetings and events.
Hotels in the pipeline
A critical factor
With hotels playing host to around 90% of meetings and events in Asia Pacific, the sector’s development will be crucial.
More than 4,200 hotels are being developed in Asia Pacific, which will add more than 900,000 rooms. This ranks behind North America in terms of new hotel projects and number one in total new rooms.
A region in its own right
China has its own market dynamics and regulations.
Tier one cities such as Shanghai and Beijing have a strong regional and global presence, allowing them to compete for international conferences with other major Asia Pacific destinations such as Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, and Sydney.
Prices in cities like Shanghai are now on a par - or even higher - than other major cities outside China, despite the scale of hotel growth in the destination.
Meanwhile - second and third tier Chinese cities, such as Chengdu and Chongqing, are more popular for domestic meetings and events as well as international exhibitions and trade shows.
Sanya on the vacation island of Hainan in southern China is growing as a destination for annual meetings – particularly in winter when it is seen as a warm weather alternative to Shanghai and other more northerly cities.
China accounts for more than half of Asia Pacific’s new hotels (59%), which will add more than 500,000 rooms to the country’s portfolio. Shanghai will see the biggest rise in hotels with 125 projects set to introduce 25,750 rooms – expect this to strengthen the city’s position as the number one meetings destination in the region.
Fast growing markets in the region, such as Myanmar, need to work on developing and training more meetings and events professionals to support the increasing demand flowing into the market.
Sam Lay, Senior Director, Asia Pacific, CWT Meetings & Events
The mature markets – Singapore, Japan, Korea and Hong Kong – are reinventing themselves. They are holding conferences and conventions that are more about thought leadership and the exchange of ideas.
Sam Lay, Senior Director, Asia Pacific, CWT Meetings & Events
Mature vs. developing markets
The more mature destinations in the region - Singapore, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Seoul – are leading the way when it comes to hosting conferences that focus more on thought leadership and the exchange of ideas rather than pure commercial activities.
In developing markets such as Vietnam, Philippines, and Cambodia, exhibitions and trade-shows takes center stage in promoting trade activities in the markets.
Domestic events are a huge part of the market in more isolated parts of the region, including Australia and New Zealand. Sydney and Melbourne still attract regional and global conferences, despite long travel times.
Japan: A sporting hotspot
Japan will be a hot destination in the next couple of years as it hosts the Rugby World Cup tournament in 2019 followed by the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. The country’s government wants to increase visitor numbers to 40 million in 2020, a 40% rise on 2017’s arrivals, with plans for 60 million by 2020.
Europe, Middle East and Africa
An industry expands
The industry remains positive, with mature European markets demanding enhanced engagement and innovation – making events an ideal showcase for the power of face-to-face in a digitally-focused world.
In the Eurozone, inflation hit 2.1% in July, according to the European Commission’s statistics bureau, Eurostat, above the European Central Bank’s target of keeping price rises below 2%, while in the UK the Bank of England has raised interest rates for only the second time in a decade.
While safety and security are always a priority when planning any meetings and events activity, it seems the terrorist attacks in the UK, France, Spain, and Germany in 2016 and 2017 have not significantly dampened demand in London, Paris, Barcelona and Berlin.
However, secondary cities like Birmingham, Manchester, and Liverpool continue to see growth. Non-traditional event venues such as sporting arenas are tapping into the income possibilities from meetings and events, offering greater choice for planners.
As Greece has made progress towards political stability we have seen a re-emergence of demand for Athens for meetings and many of the Islands for incentives. Islands such as Mykonos have become hot incentive destinations and are now being positioned as an excellent alternative to Ibiza, south of France and other popular Mediterranean destinations. Mykonos has rapidly emerged as one of the coolest destinations in Europe.
Despite ongoing Brexit negotiations casting uncertainty over how the deal will play out for airlines, visas and border control, the popularity of London as a destination has not abated. The city was propelled to the number one spot in Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) this year.
Russia’s hosting of the FIFA World Cup 2018 is likely to have impacted on the appeal of Moscow as a meetings and events destination, while Paris, Barcelona, Berlin, and Madrid remain perennially popular.
Border control in the UK is a concern post-Brexit if tighter measures lead to longer queues at airports. Paris, France, will win over the UK if it’s tricky for attendees to come into the country, especially from Asia.
Ian Cummings, Vice President, EMEA, CWT Meetings & Events
Hotel rates on the rise
Like with airfares, hotel prices in Western Europe are forecast to see the greatest increase of any region globally, rising 5.6% next year.
A supplier’s market means there’s little room for negotiation on rates, as occupancy hit highs of 82% in London and Amsterdam despite additional supply, while terms and conditions are becoming the golden ticket for any added value.
In Eastern Europe, there’s a projected decrease of 1.9% on hotel rates. In the Middle East and Africa is expected to go down 1.5%.
European airfares – East vs. West
Airfares in Western Europe are predicted to be the fastest-growing worldwide, with a projected increase of 4.8% in 2019.
However, it’s a different picture in Eastern Europe, where rates are projected to decrease by 2.3%, while in the Middle East and Africa there’s a similar downward trend of 2%. Surging oil prices - which rose to $78.77 a barrel in June, up from $46 the same time last year – have now stabilized at around $70, but the availability of low-cost carriers is expected to moderate the aviation market.
Growth in the Middle East
The CWT/GBTA 2019 Global Travel Forecast projects regional growth to increase to 3.8% in 2019, and hold firm through 2020.
The increase in growth is expected to be driven by a favorable global economic environment, stability in the oil market at slightly higher prices, and post-conflict reconstruction.
Along for the ride
An evolution in group transportation
Organizing group transportation for meetings, events or incentives has plenty of advantages that can enhance the quality of the event, as well as offer significant cost savings for both delegates and the client.
Group transport gives organizers a greater level of control over how and when attendees travel to the meeting or event. This can also enhance duty-of-care responsibilities by giving greater visibility of when attendees arrive and depart as well as the ability to leverage group deals with airlines and other transportation suppliers.
Online booking and group transportation: An ideal match
One of the biggest trends is the move to using online booking tools (OBTs) for group transport, which are fully integrated within the event’s registration platforms. This allows attendees to have access to the event’s preferred flights and hotels in one place. As with general business travel, it can significantly reduce costs for clients.
This is particularly prevalent in the North American market where business travelers have become increasingly accustomed to using OBTs for their normal business travel. Using this technology for meetings bookings is also starting to gain more traction in other markets such as EMEA (Europe, Middle East & Africa).
Using group transport services saves costs because you can make a group booking on a flight, which will be cheaper than everybody booking individually. It also makes transfers easier as you know you have a group coming in on the same flight, rather than managing them one by one. We can also track where people are, so it’s great for duty of care and the event organizer.
Saskia Gentil, Vice President, Strategic Solutions, CWT Meetings & Events
But offering online booking may not be suitable for all types of events – some incentive trips may require a more “high touch” type of service, such as offering a dedicated team of consultants who will book travel for attendees over the phone, including the ability to greet them by name, and have a high-level of knowledge about the event. This can help to make incentive winners feel more valued.
Personalization enhances group transportation
Incentives are an area where there is demand from clients for increased levels of personalization for group transport – this can even include chartering aircraft for certain groups or destinations, which can work out both cheaper than using scheduled carriers and more convenient in terms of timings and logistics.
What the client wants in terms of group transport often depends on the type of event: Is the event customer-focused or employee-focused? What is the key goal and image of the meeting? These factors play into the decision-making process.
Some clients will also prefer to secure multi-year agreements with suppliers for group transport, particularly when they have a very fixed calendar of meetings and events every year, while others prefer to contract event by event.
Private air charters allow for the customization of the experience for an attendee and it may bring them to more unique destinations. Charters can also assist with cost control. For example, we chartered seven aircraft for an event from a major US city, which allowed us to move 1,400 people – 200 on each aircraft - and saved a significant amount of money for the client, compared with using a scheduled airline.
Patricia Clark, Director, Global Group Transport Services, CWT Meetings & Events
Group transportation: A global view
Clients are increasingly looking to use suppliers with a global reach, as well as focusing on safety and security, and ensuring cost is aligned to budget.
There can be regional issues in some areas of group transport. A good example is rail travel within Europe where booking processes vary greatly between the train operators in different countries, making it challenging for attendees traveling across the continent. While in Latin America, there is a reliance on smaller local suppliers which means the service is not always as professional or reliable as in other parts of the world.
How often do you use group transport for your meetings and events?
- For the majority of larger meetings and events
- Only for our largest events every year
- Very infrequently
- Not at all
Creativity is king
Innovation and inspiration in venues
Venues see a surge in creativity
Demand is rising for unorthodox spaces and activities, particularly in the mature incentive markets in the US, UK and Europe. Treehouses, rooftops, and even islands will become increasingly popular as attendee experience takes pole position.
Museums, galleries, sporting venues, and historic buildings will continue to combine technology, design and experience in innovative new ways.
Traditional midscale and luxury meeting hotels are ramping up their offer to meet the expectation of delegates, bringing in new set-ups, seating, and contemporary catering, even in the most conventional boardrooms.
Several major hospitality brands are focusing on being more trend-led and investing in their events capabilities - with the likes of Marriott cutting agency commission for group business in the US, to reduce costs it believes are limiting its “ability to invest in meeting products, experiences, and innovation.”
Venue selection in 2019 will be about being adventurous, creative and having the space not to have to sit on a chair all day. Attendee experience is driving that completely, to ensure each delegate has a successful, creative meeting.
Emma Chamberlain, Global Supplier Manager, UK, Ireland and Benelux, CWT Meetings & Events
AccorHotels – which has been on an acquisition spree over the past few years and now owns Fairmont, Swissotel, Raffles and Mövenpick Hotels and Resorts will focus heavily on delegate experience while Mandarin Oriental is following suit, offering wellness activities such as yoga.
Radisson Edwardian is investing in a dedicated delegate experience team. This innovation will add critical value in what has traditionally been a supplier’s market.
Only 16 percent of planners say they are extremely certain of their venue when they begin the sourcing process, according to Cvent’s latest Global Planner Sourcing Report. Meanwhile, peer recommendations influence sourcing decisions more than any other factor. A robust and creative offer will drive demand, but may push up prices and create challenges in negotiating terms and conditions and ensuring consistent service.
Where venues are concerned, the more exclusive the better – either in the sense an attendee would not have the money to go there themselves, or they would not even have access to that venue. Customers are tired of conventional hotel rooms.
Tiina Muukari, Global Supplier Management, Nordic Zone, CWT Meetings & Events
Brands like Mandarin Oriental are finding a route to delegate’s hearts through their bellies with Michelin-starred restaurants from the likes of renowned chefs Heston Blumenthal in London, Richard Ekkbus in Hong Kong and Carme Ruscalleda in Barcelona.
In certain cities, hotels are developing their own destination restaurants, boosting their revenues and luring groups with the promise of memorable – and Instagrammable - gastronomic experiences.
There’s a growing desire from suppliers to make the experience, stay and location more memorable than in previous years, in order to meet the demands of clients who are prepared to pay for standout events. Stimulating brain and body – that’s where the most attractive venues will be headed in 2019.
The game has changed and expectations around events are ever-increasing. Traditional hotel chains have recognised the threat posed by the attraction of unique and unusual venues by investing heavily in meetings and events infrastructure, technology and improved food and beverage offerings.
Paul Stoddart, Managing Director, UK,Ireland and Benelux, CWT Meetings & Events
Hosts with the most
Three exciting new venues across the globe
Jewel Changi Airport, Singapore
Touted as Singapore’s largest air-conditioned indoor garden, with its show stopping 40m waterfall, topiary gardens, maze and canopy bridge suspended 23m above ground, the Jewel at Singapore’s Changi Airport will open in early 2019.
Up to 1,000 guests can be accommodated in the column-free Canopy Park Event Plaza, under Jewel’s iconic glass and steel façade. It brings the great outdoors into a completely waterproof 14,000 sqm venue. Plus there’s the 130-room Yotelair hotel, within walking distance to all three airport terminals, restaurants, shops and business lounge.
The Londoner, Leicester Square, London
Set to open in 2020, The Londoner in Leicester Square will have eight stories above ground and six below ground, complete with a banqueting suite, bars and restaurants. As well as 350 bedrooms, two Odeon cinemas, and event and leisure facilities, the series of independent but connected venues, can be used as a single space for hosting major film premieres in the future.
Proving that luxury and sustainability need not be incompatible, QO Amsterdam is more than a boutique hotel. It calls itself “a visionary lifestyle destination.”
Positioned alongside the Amstel River, Amstelkwart has a rooftop greenhouse, a wellbeing studio with a full schedule of classes to nourish mind, body and soul and a philosophy of creating a positive impact for people and planet, away from the one-use approach to hospitality.
Three of the most unique venues for event planners
iFLY São Paulo, Brazil
Indoor sky diving is an activity that will get the adrenalin flowing before or after a meeting. At iFLY São Paulo, the attached meeting space is an ideal solution for small groups needing a memorable experience. iFLY also has a venue in Brasilia, as well as 32 US locations, three in Australia and the UK, and two venues in France.
Lonna Mine storehouse, Helsinki, Finland
The fascinating history of Lonna island makes for a memorable seasonal venue. Its historic naval mine storehouses – which date back to 1880 – have been refurbished for use as two event spaces each accommodating up to 120 attendees, with a large banquet terrace for outdoor entertaining. Surrounded by the sea, the island venue gives the added experience of arriving by boat.
Brooklyn Brewery, New York, USA
Brooklyn is undergoing major regeneration with new hotels, and residential and green spaces, making it an ideal destination for businesses searching for a new side to New York.
Brooklyn Brewery’s post-industrial space is a modern alternative to more traditional venues. It offers private space for groups of 25-40 or sole use hire of up to 200 attendees on Mondays and Tuesdays.
What would most attract you to using a unique venue for a meeting?
- Space that can be used flexibly to flow between indoors and outdoors
- Creative options for room set up
- Easily accessible location
- Thoughtful and diverse selection of food and beverages
How to disrupt a meeting
The leading tech trends for 2019
Advances in event technology are allowing forward-thinking planners to break away from defined parameters and use technology to increase engagement, capture valuable data, and cut time and cost.
Augmented and virtual realities, alongside the internet of things are expanding the creative pool while online venue booking, meetings management tools and virtual or hybrid events are meeting the challenges of time-poor planners and participants.
The meetings and events sector is ripe for technological disruption. In such a business-focused world, the meeting planners are the consumers who are democratically demanding better meetings management and cost reduction.
Brandon Balcom, Senior Director, Open Innovation, Carlson Wagonlit Travel
“Around 80 per cent of planners embed a tech requirement in their initial request,” says CWT Meetings and Events Commercial Director Chris Goundrill , “but with a growing understanding of technology’s role in delegate management, feedback and ROI, that figure is rapidly rising.”
The emergence of more sophisticated technology means we are seeing a more integrated user experience across sourcing and payments, bringing an end to those pain points for event planners.
Bernadette Basterfield, Global Category Leader – Travel/Living & Fleet – Meetings & Events, GE Global Operations Sourcing
Easily app-licable: Event apps are on the rise
The cost of sophisticated, full-service meeting apps remains high, but spread over a large-scale event, the investment can be worth it for an app that allows for registration, participation, data capture and more.
For smaller businesses, a micro website can be a cost effective solution that mimics an app at around a sixth of the cost, and can be branded for a personalized look and feel, and even used as an invitation, registration site and can be developed into a web application for a phone.
In the Nordics, the CWT team is developing around 150 micro websites a year, and growing, while France has seen more requests this year than ever before, with one pharma client implementing a policy of requiring online registration at 100 per cent of its events. While Cvent is the largest provider, there are numerous start-ups out there – Netkin, Eventdrive, and Delegia to name a few – making this an increasingly competitive marketplace. And with opportunities to connect with attendees pre-event, increase participation during an event and keep the relationship going post-event, the surge of event apps and microsites in 2019 is a given.
The way we use social media in our private lives is being used more and more in our business lives. That is not about adding a hashtag to a meeting, but thinking how we use social media during an event to create greater impact, and using it much more for delegate advocacy.
Pernilla Andren, Director, Nordics, CWT Meetings & Events
The future is phygital: Virtual and augmented reality
Are virtual meetings set to replace live events? The answer to that is a resounding no, but for increasingly complex events at multiple locations around the globe, virtual and hybrid meetings – also known as “phygital”, a cross between physical and digital – are the future. Meeting Professionals International’s (MPI) latest outlook finds that 60 percent of meeting and event professionals feel virtual events have a positive influence on live event attendance.
Virtual or hybrid meetings are a way to share your message with greater audiences, plus take advantage of reduced travel and optimise time.
Cécile Drevillon, Operations Support & Technology Director, France, CWT Meetings & Events
Virtual reality (VR) costs are coming down, making the speaker market an area ripe for immediate adoption.
As well as being cool, and driving engagement virtual reality can reduce the complexity of site visits where venue sourcing is concerned, although the technology needs to be advanced enough to make it truly immersive.
Venues including The Brewery in London, the Atlanta Marriott Marquis and Shangri-La Hotels are sharing their event assets through web or mobile-based virtual reality, while Events DC uses Samsung Gear VR and Oculus Rift headsets to show the interior and exterior of venues including the Walter E.Washington Convention Center.
Augmented reality (AR), tech that adds digital information such as images onto a user’s real environment, could be used for way-finding at larger congresses, where attendees need to find their way around an extensive venue.
Google has already announced AR development of a ‘visual positioning service’, using its ARCore system, while Apple's iOS12, and the iPhone X’s advances in AR could be used to help attendees navigate large events. AR’s use in communicating complex information in a visual way can be translated to training sessions and product launches. It's particularly well-suited to the medical, manufacturing and automotive industries.
Tools around intelligence, rather than service, are increasing and I’m really excited about that. It’s now possible to gain quick, easy information that is making a difference to the solutions we can offer for events.
Chris Goundrill, Commercial Director, UK & Ireland, CWT Meetings & Events
No bots about it: A.I will impact events
Bot technology and chat interfaces are expected to boom. The technology has already reached the hotel industry with AI bringing on-demand concierge information to guests, and the application is ripe for use in the meetings and events field.
Bot messaging could be used to handle attendee registration, providing a more instant experience that mirrors smartphone use in daily life. Virtual hosts are another example of AI in the events sphere – the host can handle workshops, communication, and even guide game sessions.
Book on the fly: OBTs to become more prevalent
There’s a huge business opportunity in online booking tools for venues. While many hotel chains are still in the decision-making phase of whether to offer online meeting booking, some are a step ahead – expect global players to roll out the service in the coming year. And tech companies are ready for this innovation, having devised the platforms to support instant online booking. With CWT already offering online booking with partner venues through CWTEasyMeetings.com, the events space is catching up with the travel sector for ease, speed and bookings on-the-go.
The data story: Advances in data capture
Small and medium sized meetings are still missing out on data capture where connections are made over email, and the predominant platform for data is a spreadsheet. The coming year will see the global rollout of CWT’s own Enhance ME project – a consistent and accurate solution that will combine meeting management tools including Cvent and Meeting Box to allow for data consolidation, strategic planning, management of preferred suppliers, budgeting, analytics and spend prediction – all in a central portal.
Facial recognition and mobile pay are two critical technologies that are directly related to safety and security. These can get around the gap in validating credentials that comes from traditional lists of name badges and will have immediate value and impact.
Beau Ballin, Senior Director, Business Development, North America, CWT Meetings & Events
What technology will have the greatest influence on your M&E programs in 2019?
- Virtual reality/augmented reality
- Meeting apps
- Artificial intelligence
- Meeting management tools
- Online booking tools
Artificial intelligence and machine learning are going to play a huge role in how we market and plan our events and how the hospitality industry manages them. Savvy event planners and marketers are tapping into the power of machine learning for their pre-event marketing efforts – using the technology to provide more personalized and impactful recommendations to their prospects and customers.
Reggie Aggarwal, Founder and CEO, Cvent
Trends in attendee experience
Attendee experience: It’s the holy grail of meeting planning. With delegates spanning several generations and cultures, how do you ensure that each event, conference or incentive will leave delegates informed, inspired and ultimately ready to build on business objectives?
2019 will be about being open to innovative conference formats and use of new tech to deliver a different experience – it’s about being bold and daring to be different.
Paul Stoddart, Managing Director UK, Ireland and Benelux, CWT Meetings & Events
We share the latest trends to help you improve attendee experience.
Festivalization: A consumer trend for corporate events
“For true success , the experience must generate the strongest audience engagement” says Vincent Schlegel, Marketing & Strategy Director, France, CWT Meetings & Events.
The rise of festivalization – designing an immersive business event that echoes some of the best parts of a consumer festival – means more focus on co-curation of sessions, social media activity and innovative workshops, visuals and venue design.
When it comes to incentives, a wonderful resort in an exotic destination is no longer enough – a complete buy-out is becoming critically important for some planners to achieve maximum attendee experience. And resorts are recognizing the value in offering the option during times when leisure demand is low. This facilitates the possibility of taking over a non-traditional space, such as a swimming pool or part of a golf course, for the exclusive use of attendees.
Festivalization is a real trend: it is the idea of gathering internal or external stakeholders around a central theme with the possibility of offering an immersive journey rich in experience, emotion, and sharing. Everyone does not live the same experience and that's what's interesting.
Vincent Schlegel, Marketing & Strategy Director, France, CWT Meetings & Events
Are you planning a “festivalized” event in 2019?
- Yes – it is an approach my organization has already successfully used
- Yes – it will be the first time my organization tries this format
- No – I am unsure it would add value to my organization’s M&E program
- No – but it is a concept my organization would consider
Content: Co-creation is key
Just as the most successful businesses on social media understand, conversation rather than broadcasting is key to engagement.
2019 will see further development of new formats of co-constructed events: engaging attendees in the process of content creation through questionnaires, identification of topics, and choice of speakers.
Where specific content needs to be shared – such as new product information, financial updates or sales targets, the static presentations of yore are being replaced by better technology and increased production values.
The widespread adoption of tools like Facebook Live and Insta Stories in daily life mean that attendees are more accepting of video that isn’t necessarily of feature film standards – as long as it is engaging.
Content is king in meetings and events – we want it to be impactful, memorable and drive business results.
Beau Ballin, Senior Director, Business Development, North America, CWT Meetings & Events
Speakers: Creating a sense of shared experience
The phrase ‘death by Power Point’ will – hopefully – soon be banished to the history books, as the advent of TED Talks has sparked a whole new way of presenting information.
Speaker engagement can be scientifically analyzed using facial coding and neuroscientific tools like Datakalab to measure audience attention and emotional commitment. Where there are gaps, presentation coaching can address issues.
Simple hacks like moving the stage to the center of the room can help create a sense of shared experience rather than observance.
As CWT’s senior director of business development Beau Ballin explains, there has been an “evolution from lectures, to presentations, to performances, and apps and survey tools mean real-time feedback on the quality of the speakers.”
Booking a speaker based on their celebrity status will be a thing of the past in 2019, as the importance of knowledge, business insight and emotional connection to the audience comes first.
Pre-event is important in planning what the business wants to achieve, but also understanding how the attendees are thinking and feeling. Speak to the audience before the event to find out their views and objectives, so you can deliver an event that is fit for purpose.
Paul Stoddart, Managing Director UK, Ireland and Benelux, CWT Meetings & Events
Tech: Boosting engagement with apps and social media
Attendee participation can come down to the technology – and there’s plenty out there to make sure Q&A sessions, polls and even networking with fellow attendees is quick, easy and accessible.
For a large, global conference of several days, it can make sense to invest in a sophisticated event app, but smaller events can tap into the benefits offered by event microsites, which mimic an app and can be used on attendees’ smartphones and tablets.
Social media is a fact of life for most people – so finding ways of integrating social into the event can add to the experience, as well allow for sharing and networking.
Bringing the event experience closer to the way people behave outside of work in terms of messaging and chat is set to become simpler with the launch of WhatsApp Business for Android phones in certain markets.
Top-down approaches no longer work on millennials, which now represent an important or even preponderant part of our audiences. It's getting harder to keep them focused. Unless you ban smartphones and tablets, which would be perfectly counterproductive, it is necessary to adapt content and formats.
Vincent Schlegel, Marketing & Strategy Director, France, CWT Meetings & Events
Measure and manage: ROI and ROE
Analyzing the event’s impact is a tricky business as every meeting owner has different goals and expectations. There is no set formula.
“ROI is the principle of value creation,” says Saskia Gentil, Vice President, Strategic Solutions, CWT Meetings & Events. “How can we influence participants to do something that adds value for stakeholders at the lowest possible cost?”
Setting out objectives from the outset is critical to reporting . Measurable elements include knowledge retention, incremental sales at quarterly markers after the event, or even employee retention based on engagement levels.
When return on experience is the goal, technology is assisting with the evolution of analytics in 2019.
CWT is already working with innovative start-ups including Datakalab, as mentioned above, using facial coding and neuroscience to measure emotional response.
Meanwhile, return on experience can also be measured through social media and how people have engaged by sharing or liking posts through platforms including Twitter and LinkedIn.
“Start-ups are creating technology to measure social media responses that can be adjusted to a client’s request,” adds Gentil. “This can help demonstrate to clients how meeting and events are adding value.”
The future of Strategic Meetings Management
The SMM approach: how to forecast your spend and show the ROI
Clients around the world are becoming increasingly aware of the advantages that Strategic Meetings Management (SMM) can bring to their meetings and events program.
SMM has been rapidly gaining traction with organizations based around the world as the best way of creating efficiencies and cost savings, as well as providing value for attendees.
A SMM program involves managing meetings across the whole of an organization to increase visibility, reduce risk, and optimize the attendee experience.
The approach creates a laser focus on strategy, operations and data analysis, which boosts savings and arms clients with data to use as leverage during negotiations with suppliers. Additionally, incremental value creation and process optimization result in happy attendees and delighted meeting owners.
Strategic Meetings Management is really hitting its stride - after taking hold firmly in the North American market, companies all across the globe are achieving success with SMM and moving quickly into advanced strategies and next practices. From the integration of AI and bots to zero based budgeting and incremental value creation via an improved consumer journey, we are way beyond savings and security.
Kari Wendel, Vice President Global SMM Strategy & Solutions, CWT Meetings & Events
With the ongoing consolidation in the hotel industry and the meetings technology sector, including event management platform Cvent’s acquisition of competitors such as Lanyon and Kapow, the true value of SMM is more apparent than ever.
SMM brings best practices to life and drives optimal lead times while increasing adoption, compliance and delivery.
Rachel Lunderborg, Global Director, Solutions & Analytics, CWT Meetings & Events
SMM tips the scales back in favor of clients by using strategies such as shifting sales towards preferred suppliers and analyzing demand to determine the optimal times to secure the best venues, hotels and flights at the best prices. SMM gives clients a toolkit to achieve their strategic goals across the entire meetings and events lifecycle.
Has your organization considered or implemented Strategic Meetings Management (SMM) for your M&E program?
- Yes, we are already using SMM
- Not yet, but we are considering implementing SMM
- No, we don’t think SMM is right for us
- We have never considered using SMM
- We don’t know what SMM is
Bonus Feature- Safeguarding 2019
Addressing the safety concerns of the future
Safety and security will top the list of concerns
While the threat of terrorist attacks often dominate media coverage when it comes to safety and security, meetings and events are more likely to be affected by less headline-grabbing concerns such as travel disruption due to bad weather or strikes, road traffic accidents and possible health issues such as outbreaks of food poisoning.
One impact of terrorist incidents is that clients are increasingly asking about emergency procedures for events in what have traditionally been perceived as being “low risk” destinations such as North America and Western Europe.
Now risk assessments are being carried out regardless of location. Duty of care to employees and attendees has risen towards the top of organizations’ priority lists in recent years.
Best practice for reducing risk is to communicate any potential safety and security issues before the trip, which can be done through an event app so that updates can be sent out regularly if things change on the ground.
Such messages can still potentially be ignored by attendees, so it’s also important to give them a verbal briefing at the start of the event when the whole group is together – this can include any security recommendations about whether they should leave a resort venue or advice about using local transport.
Carefully consider the location based on the type of event you are running. An Incentive should be just that; not somewhere where delegates may feel unsafe traveling to. Use a common sense approach when having to cancel or postpone an event. What can be done to reassure your delegates?
Liz Quinton, Senior Director, Regional Operations, EMEA, CWT Meetings & Events
Tracking attendees can be a challenge – particularly if they are booking flights and hotels through a myriad of different channels and suppliers. Even those that have mobile apps allowing them to “check in” and give their location to their employer or event organizer may be reluctant to do so, because of privacy concerns.
Typically, organizations used to rely on venues to take care of on-site security, medical and emergency procedures, but now they are being more proactive. They want to know what the venue’s emergency plans are – if an attendee becomes seriously unwell, which hospital will they go to? If there are likely to be protests outside the venue, which can be the case for some pharma events, what sort of security arrangements will be in place? What’s the plan if there is an outbreak of food poisoning?
Cyber security is also an issue at events – particularly when the venue is offering a free wi-fi service, which may be on an unsecured network. Travelers may be accustomed to using their organization’s secure internet networks, such as a VPN (virtual private network), when at an airport or hotel but is this still the case when accessing wi-fi at a venue? Is it possible, they could be sending emails with confidential information over an unsecured network? These are the key questions to answer.
The general advice is to communicate clearly about any security issues with attendees, regardless of whether they are employees or not, both before and during the trip. There should also be rigorous risk assessment and emergency action plans put in place well before the meeting or event, with clear lines of responsibility for who will do what in an emergency. The days of just hoping the venue will sort things out are long gone.
Organizations are more aware of security, medical and emergency plans at venues, or are getting involved in the planning process. If something goes wrong, it’s the reputation of the company that’s at stake, not the reputation of the venue.
Matthew Bradley, Regional Security Director, Americas International SOS
Have you increased the scope of your risk assessments for meetings and events over the past 12 months?
Bonus Feature- GDPR
The global gold standard
Following the data rules
European regulation has global impact
The European Union’s new General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR), which came into force on May 25, 2018, has introduced more stringent data protection rules across Europe. They also have global repercussions for the meetings and events industry.
GDPR tightens up the rules on how organizations collect, manage and secure personal data, known as Personally Identifiable Information (PII). This includes ensuring that EU citizens and residents give “explicit consent” to receive marketing messages – ending the practice of having opt-out and pre-ticked boxes. EU citizens also have the “right to be forgotten” and can make requests to see and even erase data being held on them.
What has caught the eye of many are the high levels of potential fines for organizations found guilty of a serious breach of data security – the EU can levy fines of up to €20 million or 4% of global turnover for a single breach. Authorities also must be alerted to any hack or breach within 72 hours of an organization becoming aware of the incident.
There are many reasons to think that GDPR is a scary process, especially with all the press surrounding it. If your business already has solid processes in place, they are regularly updated, reviewed and you secure the data properly, then there is no real change needed. It is very important to manage thorough due diligence with all third-party suppliers. They must contractually agree to align with your customer requirements and business needs around how they in turn will be GDPR-compliant.
Liz Quinton, Senior Director, Regional Operations, EMEA, CWT Meetings & Events
Although GDPR is a European Union initiative, it has global implications because the rights apply to EU citizens, regardless of where they are in the world. Even if you hold a meeting or event outside the EU with non-EU companies and seemingly no obvious EU connections, GDPR will still apply if you have any EU citizens attending the event.
This has led to many multinational organizations implementing policies to comply with GDPR across their global operations and not just EU locations – effectively using it as a “gold standard” in data protection and as an impetus to reassess their data security policies.
The most important thing is not to panic – the EU does not expect every organization to be entirely compliant with every aspect of GDPR from day one. Organizations must instead show they have put in place a plan of how they intend to comply.
Meeting and events data is very sensitive, including personal data such as names, addresses, dietary requirements etc. This data needs to be secured and protected, while also ensuring that any third parties who receive this data have also taken measures to comply with GDPR. This may involve reviewing contracts with third-party suppliers to ensure they are looking after attendee data securely and there are no potential problems.
Good practice may include having a specified time period for deleting attendees’ data after an event. This time period may depend on the regulations governing the sector involved in the meeting.
How happy are you that your meetings and events are GDPR compliant?
- We think we have got it covered
- We have an action plan we are working through
- We are just starting to work on this
- We don’t think it applies to us
- We don’t know what GDPR is
Methodology and about
CWT Meetings & Events
About CWT Meetings & Events
CWT Meetings & Events delivers 38,500 innovative, high-quality projects for customers every year – across all industry sectors, globally. Our creative know-how helps us deliver awe-inspiring events, and our logistics expertise guarantees professional meeting services, group travel, and compliance. We manage your strategic meetings management programs with one aim in mind – to maximize your return on investment.
CWT Meetings & Events is Carlson Wagonlit Travel’s meeting & events division.
For more information:
There’s more information about CWT Meetings & Events at www.cwt-meetings-events.com
The information and findings in the 2019 CWT Meetings & Events future trends report are based on:
- The market-specific expertise and travel industry knowledge of CWT M&E personnel worldwide and spend data from the CWT global client portfolio
- The joint GBTA/CWT Travel Price Forecast
Thanks you to all our partners and clients who provided invaluable information in creating this report
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