Rising Costs Top Meetings Industry Report


Planners are optimistic about 2024, with almost half expecting to book more meetings than in 2023, according to the 2024 State of the Meetings Industry.

Event planners are feeling optimistic about 2024, with approximately 42 per cent expecting an increase in bookings, 32 per cent forecasting growth of up to 20 per cent and almost 10 per cent projecting a boost over 20 per cent. Additionally, planners expect their meeting sizes to grow in the coming year. More than 40 per cent project growth of up to 10 per cent, while 17 per cent anticipate up to 20 per cent more attendees, according to the report.

The annual research report was conducted by Knowland, a provider of data-as-a-service insights on meetings and events for hospitality, and ConferenceDirect, a full-service global meetings solution company.

While there is general optimism, the pressure is on to deliver high-quality events and game-changing attendee experiences while staying within budget. Rising costs combined with less experienced hotel staff are changing how and where planners book, resulting in smaller events, a move to secondary markets, and modified experiences.

“Improvements in staffing and technology have enabled hotels to respond faster. Twice as many planners are satisfied with venue responsiveness compared to last year; however, our industry is currently undergoing a reset, requiring an alignment of expectations with costs on both sides. It’s clear from this year’s survey that to unlock our growth potential, we need to work to apply our passion and solve these challenges, together,” said Jeff Bzdawka, CEO, Knowland.

Highlights from the survey include:

High price is a key challenge for planners
While planners are more satisfied with the responsiveness of venues, pricing continues to be an issue with 47 per cent of planners. The rise in F&B and AV prices of up to 50 per cent is a game changer for event design and production. Decision makers are leaning into their planners and intermediaries to aid in finding ways to do more within their budgets.

Secondary markets provide an opportunity for lower prices and high-quality experience
Organizers may consider changing destinations and venues to manage meeting costs. Groups are more likely to relocate events to alternative markets to maintain event quality and avoid moving down in chain scale. This shift presents opportunities for secondary and tertiary markets to attract new business by offering quality products, services, and attractive pricing alternatives compared with the top 25 market destinations.

AI and sustainability are on the radar but not influencing strategy
AI plays an increasing role in the meetings industry. Planners see opportunities for AI in expected uses, such as event mobile apps and virtual assistants. Yet, there is less excitement for AI in daily operations or game-changing digital applications, at least for now. And while sustainability is a top-of-mind issue, it has not yet made it into the KPIs of meeting organizers.

Hotel responsiveness has improved, but staffing levels and experience continue to plague events 
Satisfaction with hotel responsiveness is up 100 percent compared to last year. However, planners are still impacted by staffing and experience levels at hotels. Hotel cluster sales models are cited as driving slower responses, and inexperience is causing longer contract periods. Planners point out that the lack of knowledge by both sales and operations staff causes them to work harder.


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