CWT Meetings & Events released their 2017 Meetings and Events Forecast and it’s full of industry data and insights for meeting planners and event professionals. Here are 3 of our top takeaways from the report:

Growth should continue.

The report cites a Bellweather report predicting 10% increase in event spending YOY, and events will be approximately 25% of marketing budgets. In the increasingly fragmented and noisy media/marketing landscape, events may actually offer the best return on investment in terms of creating brand awareness, loyalty and driving sales/objectives. Lest we forget 2008, event spending rides the wave of the overall economy, and the report notes macroeconomic trends seem positive in the near term.

Savings are available to the savvy buyer.

The report highlights the rise of non-hotel venues and accommodation (think winery space plus Airbnb) as an opportunity to lower cost AND create a more memorable experience for 1-100 person events. Perhaps these trends, plus increased hotel construction, leads the authors to predict a significant surplus in hotel space compared to demand, likely creating more negotiating space and lower prices. In North America, for example, they expect a 20% discount vs. list rates as a benchmark for successful negotiation, especially for larger events.

We’re missing strategic opportunities with small meetings.

While most SMM efforts and general focus tends to be on the few largest events each year, the report notes that 70-80% of meetings are still on the small side (10-25pp, under $25k budget). If you do the math, it seems like the “long tail” of small meetings might actually exceed the spend on our largest events—-so why has the market not created effective solutions for our smaller meetings? Why do our SMM initiatives fail to address these?

I would propose, and I think the report suggests, that the technologies that allow us to be highly strategic with our larger events just haven’t focused on scaling down to the smaller, more frequent meeting. Your event registration system, event app, audience interaction tools, or surveys, which have become expected at larger events, allow us to collect a lot of data and make strategic choices….but for these smaller events? Not so much.

Perhaps the current tools from your large events seem too expensive or not worth the time to deploy—-but very likely no one is asking us to show ROI yet. I would imagine that if one really wanted to turn executive heads, this may be an opportunity for innovative companies and planners to carve out a valuable niche.

Page 14 of the report has some good advice on how to work with small meetings.

Have other thoughts or takeaways from the forecast? Post them in the comments below!

Meeting Tomorrow, as a national AV and event technology partner, can help you centralize your procurement, reduce costs and advise on strategies to make your events more engaging. We can be an instant SMM center of excellence for your large and small meetings, with predictable pricing and service nationwide.

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