by Lisa Grimaldi and Michael Shaprio | December 01, 2018
Another year of strong, steady growth awaits the meetings industry, say prognosticators, and we have the economy to thank for that. The global economy will remain strong into 2019, according to the Conference Board's Global Economic Outlookfor 2019. While we might be nearing the zenith of the global business cycle, we're not there yet: GDP growth is forecast to be 3.2 percent in United States next year and 2.4 percent globally, with the uptick gradually slowing over the next four years.
While a surging economy generally means a robust meetings outlook, planners will face significant challenges in the year to come. Demand could climb by 5 to 10 percent around the globe, notes the 2019 Meetings & Events Future Trends report from Carlson Wagonlit Travel Meetings & Events.
 
"Demand for meetings far outstrips supply of venues and hotels as the number of meetings and budgets increase in North America in response to the strength of the economy," says Tony Wagner, vice president, Americas, for CWT M&E. That will undoubtedly lengthen the necessary lead times for booking, and push planners to consider a greater variety of destinations and venues. CWT also calls for a whopping 14 percent increase in group size for North American meetings, only intensifying the race for space.
 
Also rising: meeting budgets. However, the increases are not likely to keep pace with higher costs, according to the 2019 Global Meetings & Events Forecast from American Express Meetings & Events. In North America, budgets are expected to rise by just 0.8 percent, in tandem with a group hotel rate increase of 2.4 percent and group airfare hike of 2.11 percent. Strategic cost management will be an increasingly crucial component of the business-event planner's skill set. Read the full story at Northstar Meetings Group's new website.