“The only constant is change” said one wise Greek philosopher, and that’s especially true in the meetings and events industry. Rapid changes in technology and a rise in attendee demands can leave event professionals scratching their collective heads as to how to sift through all the noise.
With all that’s changing in events, how do you know what trends to really pay attention to?
Research to the Rescue
To help quantify these trends, PCMA recently conducted its annual Market Survey and in January, Expo Logic also conducted a survey1 of our meeting professional clients. Between these two surveys, we've identified some commonalities and trends worth noting.
Here’s a look at the top trends we see in the industry today.
Exhibition meeting budgets are tightening
Respondents from both surveys indicated that budgets are a top concern, with over half of Expo Logic’s respondents listing budget as one of their biggest challenges. According to PCMA’s Market Survey, over the last 5 years, budgets have declined for meetings with exhibitions. However, meetings without exhibitions have remained relatively steady. So if your meeting has an exhibition component, be on the lookout for ways to better monetize your expo.
More, more, more...meetings and exhibits
Despite tightening budgets, 28% of PCMA survey respondents expect to plan more events this year, with 82% holding at least one annual event with an exhibition. In fact, according to Expo Logic’s survey, 67% of respondents are looking to increase attendance at their events this year. That’s good news for event professionals looking to grow their trade show or conference.
Medical and technology meetings lead the pack
Over one-third of PCMA’s corporate professional respondents will hold more than 20 meetings this year. Of those professionals, 33% are in technology and 27% pharmaceutical/medical device industries. Given that 12 meetings is the average number of meetings held among all respondents, medical and technology meetings are far and away the most abundant. So if you’re already planning meetings in those fields, you’ll need to look for ways to differentiate your event in a crowded space. For planners looking for new markets, medical and technology could prove competitive, but fruitful.
More planning ahead
Meeting professionals are, not surprisingly, very good planners. And it looks like they’re taking even longer to plan their events. According to PCMA’s survey, the average booking window for large meetings is 2.5 years, up slightly from 2015. For small meetings, 11 months is the average now, versus 10 months last year. These findings indicate planners could be facing challenges that are taking longer to resolve, or adding complexity to their events that require extra time to plan. In either case, planners are likely looking for solutions and services throughout this longer planning cycle. Issue RFPs early so you have time to re-bid if necessary and take extra time to vet new vendor sources. It could end up saving time and money in the long run.
The shifting event landscape is one constant you can count on. But learning how the industry is changing can leave you better prepared for what lies ahead.
1 Expo Logic Survey was conducted in January 2017. 55 clients were surveyed regarding their top goals and challenges in the coming year. For more information regarding this survey or questions on this article please contact [email protected]