From Selling Belonging to Softer Productivity, a new report from Globetrender and Accor reveals key trends for the global meetings and events sector. Jenny Southan reports

Meeting Expectations: The Future of Meetings & Events is a new co-branded report from Globetrender and hotel giant Accor that reveals how the value of human connection, and the importance of balance and belonging, will be key priorities for 2024.

Free to download, the report addresses the transformation that the meetings and events sector has undergone in recent years and explores the fundamental shifts impacting the industry as it continues to evolve and recover.

“The global business landscape is undergoing a profound transformation. The way we live, work, and interact has been reshaped over the last few years, and the ripple effects of these changes have created new opportunities in the meetings and events industry,” says Sophie Hulgard, Chief Sales Officer, Accor.

“The pandemic was a defining moment for the industry. We were thrust into a world of virtual gatherings, with in-person events grinding to a halt. Yet, we adapted and evolved. That evolution continues today and the one thread that connects all the trends we forecast is the human connection. Today, more than ever, it is about the human need to meet, share and thrive.”

Coming out of the pandemic there were fears that the events industry might struggle to reclaim its audience. Today that audience has largely returned and is expected to rise far beyond its 2019 peak in the years to come. This is great news for the sector but it also brings fresh challenges and opportunities that will alter the way events are booked, planned and executed.”

The report was supported by survey data from Accor that reinforces this predicted growth trajectory. 78% of respondents said that their or their clients’ expenditure had increased since 2022, with 36% saying it had increased by more than 25%.

Looking to 2024 the growth is expected to continue with 80% of surveyed experts expecting increased spend in 2024, with 30% saying it would rise by more than 25%.

According to the Accor survey, continued growth is forecast across all meeting and event sizes in 2024. Three-quarters (78%) expect the number of small and medium sized meetings (under 100 delegates) to increase next year, and the same number said they expect the number of meetings of over 100 delegates to increase.

More than half (57%) predict a rise in large meetings (over 300 delegates) to increase and almost three-forth (78%) said it would be “very important” for their industry to attend exhibitions, conferences and tradeshows in 2024.

Reconfirming the value of meeting in real life (IRL), 33% of meetings planners expect in excess of 40% more revenue from face-to-face meetings vs a virtual meeting, and the majority, 80%, would not be happy to use video-conferencing to close deals in 2024.Designing Experiences

Five trends shaping the future of meetings and events

1. Softer Productivity

The work hard, play hard ethos once associated with business and events is changing in line with the demands of new lifestyles.

  • Key Take-away: Balance purpose and productivity

2. Selling Belonging

The meetings and events sector is all about one thing: people. Human connection and fostering a sense of belonging are the cornerstones of successful event design.

  • Key Take-away: Celebrate the human connection. Sell belonging.

3. Designing Experiences

Event bookers are looking for a return on their investment, but they are more than ever looking for ROX, a return on experience.

  • Key Take-away: Create memorable experiences that forge meaningful connections

4. Green Gatherings

Positive impact is the differentiator, and, more than ever, the sector has the green light to drive change. Green credentials are no longer a bonus for events – they will be a deciding factor in who secures the business.

  • Key Take-away: Sustainability should be the first thought, not the afterthought

5. Disruptive Technology

In-person conferences are now a vital way of bringing together people who may only see one another through laptop screens.

  • Key Take-away: Digital has reach. Face to face has value. Being in the room matters.

Disruptive Technology“The meetings and events industry has demonstrated its resilience, innovation, and adaptability,” concludes Karelle Lamouche, Chief Commercial Officer of Accor’s Premium, Midscale and Economy division.

“The trends outlined in this report stem from the DNA of the sector – face to face business matters. The human connection goes with commercial success, it makes business stronger. As the industry continues to drive recovery globally, it is the commitment to forging meaningful connections, being a catalyst for commercial and cultural growth and creating a sense of belonging that will ensure the sector exceeds its forecast growth.

“Travel is back, and, for the meetings and events sector, it’s belonging and balance that will drive the bottom line in 2024.”

Download our free Meeting Expectations: The Future of Meetings & Events report.