To the Point

Momentum for Meetings

But what does the future hold?

Each November, Convene’s Meetings Industry Forecast gives us a chance to pause and reflect on the year that’s passed – and then take a deep breath as we take a look at what’s to come in the year ahead.

This time around, the assessments for 2012 – not to mention forecasts for 2013 – give us good reason to breathe a sigh of relief. Exhibitions will end the year with 2.9 percent overall growth, and even more progress is expected in 2013 (3.2 percent growth), according to the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR). Meetings and events continue to grow in North America, with an average 4.8-percent increase expected in cost per attendee per day, along with an average 6-percent increase in group size, according to Carlson Wagonlit.

On the hotel side, occupancy and ADR are both up (5 percent, according to TravelClick). In 2013, both are expected to reach levels not seen since 2007, predicts Bjorn Hanson, divisional dean at NYU School of Continuing and Professional Studies. As a result, hotel capital expenditures are expected to increase by 33 percent next year.

Even airline performance is remarkably better. The number of late arrivals, flight cancellations, and mishandled bags has decreased dramatically over the last several years, according to Airlines for America.

Although the picture is overwhelmingly positive, the forecast demonstrates a few trends that are cause for concern. One is continued cuts to air service. Airlines for America reports that nearly 16 percent fewer flights were scheduled in the United States in the fourth quarter of 2012 compared to the same quarter of 2007. These cuts are expected to continue, thanks to rising costs and constraints on revenue production.

Another development to watch is the influx of many new or soon-to-launch online hotel-booking engines. Every player – Google, Apple, YouTube, and Facebook – is trying to get in the hotel game. Though they may still be trying to work out the kinks, it won’t be long before these platforms start to make their mark – and are adopted by your attendees.

In general, the sheer number of high-tech advances expected in the near future is likely to change business as we know it. Meetings technology consultant Corbin Ball has said that one platform alone – mobile technology – “will likely change events more in the next five years than technology has in the last 20 years.” From new tools like phablets to the explosion of recent advances like voice assistants and cloud computing, there’s plenty of powerful new tools to take advantage of – not to mention to keep up with.

How are you staying on top of the latest advances? What’s on tap for 2013 at your organization? What trends are you most excited or concerned about? I’d love to hear from you. 


Deborah Sexton

Deborah Sexton is president and CEO of PCMA.