Meetings Market Survey

What’s the Industry’s Biggest Challenge?

When we asked meeting professionals this question, we got a long list of replies. Is your biggest challenge on this list?

When we asked meeting planners to name the biggest challenge the meetings industry faces as part of our Annual Meetings Market Survey, we got a long list of replies. We only had space to publish a sample of them with our survey, but we think the full list is too interesting to keep to ourselves.

Here are all 82 of their answers — and note that 18 of them mention the word “cost.”

•  Airbnb

•  Airline travel is a drag and travel to the U.S. for meetings is difficult.

• The industry is rebounding, the meeting industry as a whole still needs to advocate the value of meetings to the greater economy as well as our organizations. It still seems to be one of the first areas that organizations target when they start looking to cut costs.

•  Being better prepared in the crisis management arena. Planners having a better understanding and preparation. Crisis management vs. risk management.

•  Boondoggle effect

•  Budget cuts


•  Buy in

•  Change … too fast and we can’t keep up with everyone’s needs

•  Competition for our audience’s time and attention

•  Contraction in space

•  Cost to hold a meeting

•  Costs

•  Economy — limiting ability of people to attend onsite meeting

•  Economy in other countries

•  Educating governments on the value of the meetings industry and I would think the Airbnb topic.

•  Engagement with multigenerational attendees

•  Ethics scandals

•  Everything changes so fast. By the time you’ve gotten your head wrapped around one concept, another one comes through and the one you’ve just begun to understand is out the window. We can’t comprehend the amount of change happeningand keep up with it to suit the needs of our audiences.

•  Finding a replacement for the traditional exhibit hall.

•  Finding common ground between suppliers and planners

•  Food and beverage is outrageously priced.

•  For meeting planners: Keeping profits high as the economy strengths and the suppliers want to charge more.

•  Generating revenue for medical meetings. Addressing climate change is also an issue (our industry does not help in terms of air travel).

•  Going mobile

•  Government regulations creating barriers for people to attend face-to-fact meetings (domestic and international).

•  Having employees who are passionate about customer service to members.

•  Higher expectations for the meetings professional to increase technology and programming while also reducing the budget.

• Hotel availability; capturing, storing and being able to make use of data. I need help on what data should I be capturing, the best way to store/access it and what the data means in terms of future decisions or actions I should be taking.

• Hotels charging more for rooms, meeting room rental,  F&B, etc. and clients needing to cut their budgets

• Hotels looking towards transient vs convention business

•  Housing poachers, Airbnb and other hotel aggregators, air travel costs with the mergers, attrition penalties and rising food and beverage costs

•  How to communicate the relevancy of face-to-face meetings/education/networking to the Millennial generation

•  I think right now the challenge we are facing is the virtual meeting vs. the destination meeting. There is so much value in having your attendees put their behind in a chair and be present with their peers and engage in a discussion about a pertinent topic without the distractions they face back home, but the fast food version of the meeting is so appealing when you can attend virtually without having to book a hotel room, get on a plane or leave your office chair. I see the value in both, but trying to plan for both and appeal to both types of attendees is something the industry is having to forecast. This is no easy task.

•  I think the No. 1 challenge facing the meetings industry now is the competition for budget dollars with exhibitors/sponsors/attendees. With so many mediums competing for the same dollars, conveying the value of face to face is more important than ever.

•  I think the number one challenge is offering reliable high-speed Wi-Fi to our attendees. Convention centers are doing a better job of partnering with planners to give them the coverage they need at a reasonable rate. However in-house AV vendors at hotels continue to hold a monopoly on it and charge exorbitant amounts for it and will double the amount if you do not use them for AV services. If the recent FCC fines handed down to several groups in the industry don’t work, I’m not sure what will.

•  I would say the seller’s market is the number one issue right now. There is not enough inventory to support the number of meetings happening right now, it is going to change the way we do business.

•  Increased costs in hotel rates and AV expenses.

•  Increasing F&B costs and raising room rate.

•  Inexperienced meeting planners.

•  Internal budget often remains the same while expectations increase in addition to rising costs.

•  Inventory and rate hikes.

•  Keeping up with the necessary technologies that increase attendee engagement and learning at an affordable price. This includes hotels keeping up and improving their internal technologies to streamline communications and logistics with meeting planners in order to reduce redundancy and mistakes, as well as providing the most-up-to-date internet capabilities.

•  Lack of respect.

•  Low budget and rising cost of F&B.

•  Most are stuck in the past when they should be looking 10 years down the road.

•  New technology that staff want to use which sometimes increases expenses.

•  Online meetings

•  People’s demanding schedules and tight budgets

•  Perception

•  Perceptions about the need for face-to-face meetings

•  Poor perception as ‘party planners’

•  Rapidly changing technology

•  Recruiting qualified people

•  Rising cost of services and food & beverage

•  Rising costs and competition!

•  Rising costs of food and beverage

•  Rising costs

•  Room block pirating

•  Run as fast as technology goes.

•  Safety concerns by attendees.

•  Seller’s market

•  Shrinking hotel market

•  Site selection…matching meeting needs to favorable destinations in a supplier favored market

•  Technology adoption and the generational evolution (both are constantly changing and never look like anything we have seen before so it is hard to plan for them).

•  Technology in the sense that more and more people are taking online courses or are participating in hybrid events — it costsless in travel and time too. Although I have experienced hybrid meetings through PCMA (which I love) but I do miss that one-on-one, personal experience with other people – interaction is so important.

•  Technology inside the meetings …. how to keep participants involved

•  Telling [the industry’s] story in a meaningful way to people who are outside of the industry.

•  The industry needs to come together to better combat the idea that having a meeting or travel is a big waste of money. If you look at the industry as a whole (airline, hotel, vendors, taxis, etc.), it generates billions of dollars. Yet the industry struggles to impact the political landscape simply because they operate as separate pieces. Meetings Mean Business has made some progress, but not much with the federal government. The Feds move the needle when they are spending money on travel and meetings. Plus, they have a greater impact on small business.

•  The number one challenge is sustaining and growing our attendance at event and membership within our organization.

•  The perception of the cost of food.

•  The uncertainty of the economy and how it will affect the industry.

•  There’s several — the fear of AirBNB, not filling room blocks, hotel Wi-Fi blocking (at least these are my challenges). 

•  Time — our audience wants to attend our functions but everyone is pulled in too many directions.

• To get contracts that are a win-win for both sides

•  Too many third parties out there that dilute the negotiations and constantly contact us, without truly understanding our business.

•  Travel costs

•  Trying to make meetings affordable for attendees

•  Understanding clients

•  Value for money

•  Wi-Fi and cost of renting convention centers, F&B minimums

•  Wireless Internet costs

Convene Editors

  • Bill Reed

    Very interesting list. Wonder what strategies are being enacted to conquer some of these challenges proactively by individual organizations. Care to share here or on PCMA Catalyst? If the advocacy comments resonate with you, I hope you have explored getting involved with one of the Global Meetings Industry Day events to be held on April 14. Many PCMA chapters are holding events, along with other groups too.

    Have you considered a letter to your representative(s)?


  • EventPilot Apps

    Some of the responses list technology and cost, however, our clients are seeing cost reductions of hundreds of thousands of dollars. They do this by simply switching from printed medical meetings proceedings to our apps, savings of over $100,000.
    The right tech can help stay on budget!