Growth in demand for meetings and events

It is an exciting time for meetings and events. The number of sophisticated venues is growing across the globe and smarter ways of using data to fine-tune the value around meetings programs are in full effect.

Engagement, discussion, conversation, and networking continue to be reinforced with the digital revolution and use of social media as a key channel for sharing messaging.

In the latest ‘CMO Survey 2018’ from Dentsu Aegis Network. it is revealed that six in ten marketers expect budgets to rise in 2019, and Cvent’s Global Planner Sourcing Report 2018 showed numbers and size of events expanding year-over-year, it’s evident that demand is set to grow in 2019.

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.

Planning early is essential to save on cost of events. 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%. Best Events offers Event Packages to help you save cost for a whole year’s worth of events.

Fuel surcharges in Malaysia will impact flight costs. With the higher price of oil starting to hit airline profits, there will be some inflation in average flight prices.

Lead times set to increase

With a tight market for meetings in 2019, lead times will increase 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.

Asia Pacific 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

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.

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 Malaysia, 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.

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 Malaysia, Vietnam, Philippines, and Cambodia, exhibitions and tradeshows 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.

An evolution in group transportation

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.

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 highlevel 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.

Innovation and inspiration in venues

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.

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.

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.

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.

Virtual reality

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.

Augmented reality

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.

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.

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. A consistent and accurate solution will combine meeting management tools to allow for data consolidation, strategic planning, management of preferred suppliers, budgeting, analytics and spend prediction – all in a central portal.

Trends in attendee experience

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.

Festivalization: A consumer trend for corporate 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 cocuration 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. 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.

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.

Speakers: Creating a sense of shared experience

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Best Events offers brainstorming meetings with sales, marketing, events and customer service departments to ensure brands avoid the silo effect. Talk to us to find out more

Reference: CWT Meetings and Events