Here’s the third and final part – focused on the outlook for 2017 – of the speech about nowadays trends in the meetings industry held by Rob Davidson at the Vilnius-based exhibition Convene.

The general tone of most economic forecasters is one of quiet optimism. Emerging markets will make a bigger contribution to the global economy in 2017. Most surveys of meetings and events professionals suggest moderate growth for the year ahead.

For the EMEA region, the GBTA/CWT forecasts that mid-scale hotels are likely to lead meetings and events bookings in the year ahead, due to strict company guidelines, reduced budgets and increasing industry regulations

In the US, is a change in the balance of power from sellers to buyers predictable? Maybe.

Brexit

Brexit is still very much an unfolding event. There are many uncertainties as the UK formulates its withdrawal strategy and its future relationship with the EU. That uncertainty could impact consumer and business confidence. More immediate concerns include currency fluctuations and the devaluation of the pound sterling.

Some meetings agencies have reported cancellations, whilst others experienced a short-term increase in meetings business as companies bring staff together to reconsider their strategies post-Brexit. US-based conference organisers have jumped at the chance to lock in lower rates for their large events for years ahead.

During the two months following the Brexit vote, the London & Partners convention bureau received 66 percent more inquiries from US conference organisers than the same time last year. Overall, among all international source markets, there was a 41 percent rise in inquiries from business event planners from June through September.

But how long will this boost in demand as a result of the weak pound actually last? Will inflation make a spectacular return? The higher costs of all of the inputs that are required for meetings, from transport to food and beverage, would inevitably lead to price rises for those purchasing such events.

Conclusion

In these times of growing uncertainty, our industry will be once more obliged to show that it is capable of prospering in the face of new challenges, some of them as yet unknown. But we are now much better placed to respond to those challenges. Greater professionalism and a sound education and training system that supports our human infrastructure are actually needed. But most of all, we are more confident about our values and importance than at any time in the history of our industry.

There has never been a more important time to advocate the true value of meetings and events.

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