CWT Meetings & Events, the global meetings and events division of Carlson Wagonlit Travel (CWT), released its 2020 Future Trends Report. 

The report states that the $840 billion meetings and events industry is poised to see an 8% growth in 2020 despite combatting geopolitical and economic challenges.

Although the future presents some challenges, the outlook is largely bright for 2020. Here are some highlights from the report.

Experiential Events Explode

During the IMEX America 2019 presentation on the report, Beau Ballin, vice president for business development at CWT Meetings & Events, said that attendees 
are willing to fly further for experiences, hinting at a potential rise in event travel to long-haul destinations.

Experiential events are even being taken online—technology like augmented and virtual reality is bringing remote attendees into the fold in new ways.

Emerging and Expanding Meetings and Events Markets

Demand for events in North America continues to increase, according to the report, but the pace of the growth has fallen. CWT Meetings & Events released its top 10 cities for meetings and events in North America, highlighting some shifts and new players, but the big growth is expected elsewhere around the globe.

Low costs and investment buzz are making Latin American destinations like Panama a more attractive option.

Halfway across the world in Asia, the uncertainty of the economic impacts of trade with China has left some nervous.

“Companies are de-risking their event [by taking it] out of China. We are seeing a lot of cancellations due to the climate there,” Ballin said.

The report states that unrest in China is giving rise to alternative destinations like Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia.

Digitalization of Meetings and Events

Technology is having a big impact on meetings and events. From event apps to artificial intelligence, it’s changing the way meeting professionals work and how attendees participate in events.

The report found this to be true, as ways to digitalize meetings and events become commonplace. The use of new technology also concurrently rises with the increase in global meetings programs and experiential events.

Technologies like augmented and virtual reality technology are expected to help create immersive event experiences.

Additionally, using technology like social media, videos, chatbots and more will be used to bring remote participants into the event experience.

Responsible Business: Environmental, Economic and Social Sustainability

According to the report, many brands are making a statement about what they stand for and how they are practicing sustainability.

This continues to remain a trend in the meetings and events industry too with planners and suppliers working together to green big events as climate change continues to be top of mind for meeting professionals and attendees.

“There is a trend toward the idea that events should do more than just educate or have a business development opportunity, but also to create good for communities globally,” said Jessie States, director of the MPI Academy, in the report.

“It is more than just an add-on, it is about the entire experience,” she added.

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