IBTM Insight: events industry news & trends from March/April

IBTM Insight: events industry news & trends from March/April

The vibrant MICE industry is a force of constant evolution; to prosper we must continuously adapt. Here we look at some recent hot topics affecting our businesses and highlight some areas where change is most likely.

Demand for venues is outstripping supply

The strong global economy–forecast by the IMF to grow at 3.5% in 2019–is driving an estimated 5-10% growth in demand for event space. This is according to the 2019 Meetings & Events Future Trends report from Carlson Wagonlit Travel Meetings & Events (CWT M&E). The report also says that in North America, group sizes have grown by as much as 14%.

“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,” says Tony Wagner, vice president, Americas, for CWT M&E.

What effect could this have over the next 12 months?

  • Venue prices are likely to rise; but event budgets are unlikely to rise with them, so event planners will need to be better at managing costs
  • Event planners will continue to expand the variety of destinations and venues they use, which is good news for alternative venues and smaller destinations, such as tier two and tier three cities
  • Lead times could lengthen

The global economy will continue to grow at a similar rate in 2020, so the pressure on venue supply looks set to continue into the next decade.

‘Bleisure’ travel is up 20%

A study by SAP Concur – Hipmunk has found that so-called ‘bleisure’ travel–you guessed it, it’s a combination of business and leisure travel–grew at a rate of 20% in recent years and will continue to grow in 2019. Business travellers are keen to immerse themselves in local experiences and exploration and they’re extending their business trips by a day or two to do so. The study shows that 16% of business trip hotel bookings included a Saturday night stay.

If you expect this is just another one of those Millennials-influenced trends, you’d be wrong. Or at least partially. Overall, the study found that around 10% of all business trips were bleisure trips and all age groups participate. Millennials take 38% of all bleisure trips, but Baby Boomers and Gen Xers are at it too, taking 31% each.

Want to host your event in a popular bleisure destinations? Here’s the Concur – Hipmunk list: New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Tel Aviv, London, Paris, Tokyo, Singapore, Shanghai.

The effect of veganism on F&B

How many vegans are there in the UK? Well, in May 2016, the Vegan Society commissioned a poll of UK residents to learn more about their dietary habits. The results showed that Britain’s vegan population had grown from 150,000 to 542,000 in just a decade. That’s the Society’s most recent study. However, more recently, comparethemarket conducted research, reported on by The Independent, which claims a significant increase in the number of people turning vegan in the country since 2016. The research found that 3.5 million British people now identify as vegan. Whether you believe that figure or not, the fact that supermarkets and train companies are providing vegan options (Waitrose has an ever-growing vegan product range and as of December 2018, 7 of 12 train companies in the UK cater to vegans), makes it clear that the move towards veganism is significant.

Commenting on train company’s providing vegan options, Lucy Wright, Media Officer for Greater Anglia, said: “Vegan options are great because not only do they cater for the vegan community, but they are loved by everyone–from those looking to try something new and different, to those who care about the environment.”

Who could deny this doesn’t ring true for business events as well?

Both event planners and venues will need to adjust their menus to stay relevant and ensure attendee satisfaction in the wake of this rise of veganism. Many already have.

Let’s be clear, this trend doesn’t mean meat at events is a thing of the past—at least not yet—but it does mean that the need for more F&B variety will increase. And this could push minimum prices up. It also means that for the time-being, offering the best vegan options, is a great competitive-advantage that could increase your F&B revenue.

Who’s Managing Simple Meetings

Half of all company-held meetings in the world are ‘simple meetings’. That’s according to research released by the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), the global business travel and meetings trade organisation, and HRS, the global hotel procurement services company.

Simple meeting are small meetings with basic, replicable requirements. When booking simple meetings, a majority of US-based respondents (84% of travel buyers, 73% of meeting planners) report using consumer channels, such as calling a hotel, or visiting a venue’s website and/or a consumer travel website. Only 30% of respondents say their company requires a bidding process for simple meetings.

This first-of-its-kind study focused on simple meetings management surveyed GBTA and Meeting Professionals International (MPI) members, with the aim of gaining perspectives from both travel buyers and meeting planners. The survey also found that around half of survey respondents’ organisations do not use a managed meetings channel for simple meetings and only 4% of US-based travel buyers have corporate KPIs attached to the value created by small meetings, while 31% of meeting planners have KPIs.

“This research puts numbers to something the industry has long suspected,” said Jessica Collison, GBTA director of research. “Simple meetings account for significant expenditures within companies–yet they are very loosely managed, potentially costing companies when it comes to the bottom line, meetings satisfaction and duty of care compliance.”

Booking meetings using consumer channels or by following informal polices, means it can be difficult to use negotiated group rates or make like-for-like value comparisons. This approach makes it difficult to evaluate the safety of venues and ensure their compliance with internal policies. It also almost entirely eliminates the possibility of getting lower rates and/or improved services/facilities by leveraging your company’s buying power.

The research can be treated as ammunition by meeting buyers, enabling them to encourage their company to change policies regarding simple meetings.

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