The GCB’s just-released list of predictions for the meetings industry in the year ahead includes:
STRONG US $ – American planners will reap the rewards of a strong exchange rate. The USD – Euro exchange rate is the close to its strongest value in 11 years making Europe good value for programs, conventions, conferences and more.
HOTEL ROOM SUPPLY – Rising demand and less availability of hotel rooms in North America will continue to push room prices higher. According to the American Express Meeting Outlook 2106* report group hotel rates are expected to rise significantly more in North America this coming year (4.2 percent) compared to Europe (2.3 percent). This rise in prices is further compounded by a decline in-group hotel space of 2.6 percent in North America in 2016 and a 2.7 percent decline in inventory projected for 2017.
TIER 2 DESTINATIONS GROW IN IMPORTANCE – Second tier cities not only offer cost-savings but appeal to planners and delegates who want new and fresh destinations. Look for cities with top-notch conference centers and venues, rich cultural scenes, and deep expertise in key industries (R&D, pharma, automotive, technology, etc.).
THE SHARING ECONOMY – The Millennial generation is fueling the growth of the sharing economy. Sixty percent of American travelers aged 18 to 34 say they put their faith in services such as Airbnb, Home Away, Uber and Lyft, comparied with 37 percent of travelers in other age groups. In Germany automakers like Daimler AG and BMW AG have recognized the value of this market, developing their own programs for car sharing (Car2go and DriveNow respectively). Hotels are also aware that this group will be their largest customer segment in the next five to ten years and are redesigning properties to emphasize interesting and welcoming communal areas, enabling mobile-based concierge services, offering non-cookie cutter guest experiences through design, dining, music and more, and providing free high speed internet anywhere and everywhere. Orbitz, American Express and Hyatt have all also recently announced partnerships to jump into the shared economy ring, and others are likely to follow.
INNOVATIVE ELEMENTS – WiFi balloons that serve remote venues, fog projectors for mid-air presentations and meeting spaces on planes–all of these technologies exist or will be available soon. In 2015 the GCB, European Associations of Event Centers (EVVC), and the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering (IAO) teamed up to launch a new research project called the “Future Meeting Space.” Tapping into meetings experts, academics, business leaders and others, the project aims to capture what meetings could look, sound, feel, and work like in the years ahead. The first deliverable to the industry out of this effort will be an online Innovation Catalog released by the end of this year. In 2016, it will release material on meeting scenarios, focus group data, experiential spaces and more.
COMPLIANCE & MORE COMPLIANCE – Compliance is expected to be a hot topic again in 2016, especially in the pharmaceutical industry. This past year saw new regulations such as the U.S. Sunshine Act (Open Payments Program) and EFPIA (European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations) guidelines being implemented. Created to provide more transparency, these regulations primarily focus on transfers of value made to health care providers (for example when pharmaceutical companies pay for lodging and, travel for doctors), leading to a huge increase in admin work for meeting planners.