8% growth expected for global meetings and events in 2020: Study

Key trends in US$840b industry include increasing digitalisation, changing demographics and a move towards authentic experiences

The report predicted that 30% of marketing budgets are expected to be spent on live events in 2020.
The report predicted that 30% of marketing budgets are expected to be spent on live events in 2020.

MINNEAPOLIS - A latest study has projected an 8% growth in 2020 for the global meetings and events industry despite general uncertainty in the global business community.

In a 2020 Future Trends Report published by CWT M&E on Sept 10, the protracted trade war between the United States and China, the future of Brexit and the ongoing social unrest in Hong Kong are highlighted as events contributing to the uncertainty.

The growing concern over the impact of climate change is also increasingly clouding business sentiments.

Despite these issues, there are reasons to be upbeat, said CWT president and CEO, Kurt Ekert.

"The need for live events is becoming more relevant than ever before," said Mr Ekert, who pointed out that up to 30% of marketing budgets are 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 report identifies key developments in the industry in 2020, including digitalisation, with event websites being created at a rapid pace-up 52% year-over-year-as more customers utilise these sites to drive increased engagement.

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Event websites are being created at a rapid pace year on year.

Mobile devices are also adding new functionality with apps that go beyond setting travel itineraries to allowing organisers to create a higher degree of personalisation 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 digitalisation is being driven by the changing demographics as millennials are poised to become the biggest group of business travelers globally from 2024 onwards.

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 CWT Meetings & Events' senior vice president and managing director, Derek Sharp. "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.

"Organisers are responding with innovations that put a premium on the ability to personalise experiences, coupled with ways of measuring the resulting engagement."

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Travelers increasingly prefer to immerse themselves in a destination like locals.


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.

Hand-in-hand with this trend is the growing attraction of off-the-beaten track destinations versus the usual tier one cities.

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 report findings. These sustainable initiatives include replanting trees and other efforts to care for the environment - and leave a lasting legacy long after an event concludes.  

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 food & beverage in 2020.

You can access the full report here: https://www.cwt-meetings-events.com/futuretrends/

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