The 2014 EIBTM Trends Watch Report presented by Rob Davidson of MICE Knowledge reflected the upbeat tone of confidence widely demonstrated this year by companies and organisations operating in the global meetings and events industry.
Highlights of the report show that most of the key market segments in the corporate meetings sector – information and communications technology, automotive, pharmaceuticals and construction – have experienced growth in 2014, boosting the demand for corporate conferences, product launches, and training events. The developing world, in particular China and the Middle East, is where this growth has been most significantly witnessed. The incentive travel sector has also seen a resurgence in 2014, with convincing evidence of growth in demand, rising budgets and the use of a greater variety of destinations for the hosting of such events.
Greater levels of confidence have also been noted this year among planners of international associations conferences, with evidence of increasing budgets and attendance levels. Cities in Europe and Asia are particularly successful at winning these events, although Australasia and the Middle East are increasingly asserting themselves as destinations for international association conferences.
As demand has grown this year, so has the supply of facilities for meetings and events, with expansion, in many world regions, of the hotel stock and major new convention centres – for example Krakow in Poland and Nigeria’s first dedicated international convention centre, the Calabar International Convention Centre. This expansion in supply has been matched by the creation of a number of new convention bureaus from Hangzhou in China to Spain’s Costa Brava, with the aim of winning meetings and events for their destinations in an increasingly competitive market environment.
In terms of the outlook for 2015, modest levels of growth are forecast for the global economy as a whole, although that growth will be most significant in Asia, the Middle East and Africa. For the meetings and events industry, forecasters are practically unanimous in their predictions that 2015 will witness continuing expansion. Some even predict that in a number of world regions – the US and parts of Europe – we will see a return to a sellers’ market, as demand outstrips supply in some key city destinations.
But 2015 will not be without its risk factors, which may create as yet unforeseen challenges for the meetings and events industry – particularly on the international scale. These include: the risk of escalating conflicts in the Middle East and in Eastern Ukraine; the Ebola virus crisis further extending its grip; and the threat of a return to recession in the Euro zone.
Innovation, resilience and dynamism will be the meetings and events industry’s best response to meeting these challenges head-on and to making the most of the opportunities that lie ahead in 2015.