CWT M&E, the global meetings and events division
of CWT, has forecast that the $840 billion industry will grow by
8% in 2020 despite looming geopolitical and economic headwinds.
According to its 2020 Future Trends Report, the
protracted trade war between the US and China is creating general
uncertainty in the global business community heading into 2020.
Adding to the anxiety is the future of Brexit and its cascading
impact on the European Union. Over in Asia, the often violent and
unpredictable protests in Hong
Kong that started in June have put businesses on alert, as
continued unrest in the city is bound to impact demand across the
region. Growing concern over the impact of climate change is also
increasingly clouding business sentiment.
Despite these issues, there are reasons to be
upbeat, says Kurt Ekert, President and CEO at CWT.
“The need for live events is becoming more
relevant than ever before,” Ekert said, with up to 30% of
marketing budgets expected to be spent on live events in 2020.
“Face-to-face meetings are critical to establishing connections
between brands and their customers, and employees and their
companies, especially during times of uncertainty. Knowing how to
manage risks globally while putting together an authentic and
measurable experience for all participants will be key for success
in this space in the coming year and beyond.”
The Future Trends Report identifies key
developments in the industry in 2020, including digitalization,
with event websites being created at a rapid pace - up 52%
year-on-year - as more customers utilize these sites to drive
Mobile devices are also adding new
functionality with apps that go beyond setting travel itineraries
to allowing organizers to create a higher degree of
personalization for attendees.
CWT M&E estimates the number of
event apps created since 2017 has jumped 83% while the
percentage of attendees downloading apps rose from 50% in 2017 to
74% year-to-date in 2019.
This emphasis on digitalization is being driven
by the changing demographics as millennials are poised to become
the biggest group of business travelers globally from 2024
Right at their heels are the so-called centennials (born
1996 onwards), the first group that can claim to be digital
natives as they have never known a world without the internet,
smartphones and apps.
“This younger group of travelers is all about
experience, authenticity and participation,” said Derek Sharp,
Senior Vice President and Managing Director, CWT Meetings &
Events. “Not content to merely ‘attend’ events, millennials and
centennials use technology to actively ‘participate’ in the
experience — pre-event, during the event, and post-event.
Organizers are responding with innovations that put a premium on
the ability to personalize experiences, coupled with ways of
measuring the resulting engagement.”
When it comes to experiential events, including
incentive travels, the report shows a move towards experiences
that feel authentic, where travelers can immerse themselves in a
destination like locals and not as high-end tourists.
with this trend is the growing attraction of off the beaten track
destinations versus the usual tier one cities.
This has raised some safety and security issues
with 42% of travelers subject to pre-travel risk assessments as
part of the travel approval process, a 5% increase year-on-year.
Socially and environmentally responsible
incentives also rank high for 2020, fueled by this next generation
of participants who view climate change as an increasingly
pressing issue, according to CWT M&E’s findings.
initiatives include replanting trees and other efforts to care for
the environment — and leave a lasting legacy long after an event
The report also includes CWT M&E’s regional
projections around costs per attendee, average lead times, meeting
duration, group size, and average spend on F&B in
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