In a recent report from Accor, a leading global hospitality group, the future of the meetings and events (M&E) sector is painted with optimism and a renewed focus on human connection.
The report, titled “Meeting Expectations: The Future of Meetings & Events,” delves deep into the transformative journey the M&E sector has embarked upon, especially in the wake of the pandemic.
Sophie Hulgard, Chief Sales Officer at Accor, emphasizes, “The global business landscape has witnessed a significant transformation. The pandemic forced us into a realm of virtual meetings, but we adapted, evolved, and realized the irreplaceable value of human connection. Today, the need to meet, share, and thrive is more pronounced than ever.”
Post-pandemic, there were apprehensions about the events industry’s ability to regain its audience. However, current trends indicate not only a return of the audience but also an expected surge beyond its 2019 peak. This resurgence brings with it new challenges and opportunities, reshaping how events are conceptualized, planned, and executed.
Hulgard further adds, “The global meeting industry is projected to be valued at $1.78bn by 2030. This underscores the undeniable power and value of in-person interactions.”
Data from Accor’s Meetings & Events Industry Forecast supports this growth trajectory. A significant 78% of respondents have seen an increase in expenditure since 2022, with 36% reporting an increase of over 25%. The upward trend is expected to persist into 2024, with 80% of experts forecasting a rise in spending.
The research also predicts growth across all event sizes in 2024. A majority expect an increase in both small to medium-sized meetings and those with over 100 delegates. The importance of attending exhibitions, conferences, and tradeshows in 2024 cannot be overstated, with 78% marking it as “very important” for their industry.
The value of face-to-face interactions is further solidified with 33% of meeting planners anticipating over 40% more revenue from in-person meetings compared to virtual ones. Moreover, a whopping 80% would prefer not to rely on video-conferencing for closing deals in 2024.
Accor’s report identifies five pivotal trends expected to shape the industry’s growth:
- Softer Productivity: A shift from the ‘work hard, play hard’ mindset to balancing purpose and productivity.
- Selling Belonging: Emphasizing human connection and fostering a sense of belonging as the foundation of successful events.
- Designing Experiences: A focus on return on experience (ROX) rather than just return on investment.
- Green Gatherings: Sustainability is paramount, becoming a primary factor in event planning and execution.
- Disruptive Technology: The importance of in-person interactions in an increasingly digital world.
Karelle Lamouche, Chief Commercial Officer of Accor’s Premium, Midscale & Economy division, concludes, “The M&E industry showcases resilience, innovation, and adaptability. As we drive global recovery, it’s the commitment to meaningful connections and creating a sense of belonging that will propel the sector beyond its forecasted growth. Travel is back, and for the M&E sector, it’s all about balance and belonging in 2024.”