by Sarah J.F. Braley | May 02, 2018
The spring 2018 edition of Meeting Professionals International's Meetings Outlook shows a healthy business environment that allows meeting professionals to turn their attention to the whole event experience. The No. 1 trend found by the survey shows 33 percent of respondents are adding more virtual, hybrid and streaming options. Other findings include:
 
• 23 percent are adding new experiences and more experiential options;
• 23 percent are trying to add more "out of the box" options, and
• 23 percent are adding more interactive/hands-on experiences.
 
This iteration of the quarterly report also asked respondents the burning question of the year: Will the decision by Marriott and Hilton to cut commissions to third-party planners from 10 to 7 percent affect their business? A bare majority (54 percent) said no; 22 percent said yes and 24 percent said "somewhat." However, the 46 percent who indicated they will be affected is significantly greater than the number of third-party planners who belong to MPI; 17.5 percent of the membership are independent planners, according to the organization.
 
For the survey, the organization also asked its usual questions about the industry's immediate future. Those results show the following:
 
• The prediction of 3.9 percent business growth over the next year is the largest such finding since the spring 2015 Meetings Outlook survey;
• 75 percent of respondents predict favorable business conditions over the next year;
• Budgets are relatively stable, with 56 percent of those surveyed saying they expect they'll have more money to spend, while 28 percent said they expect their budgets to remain the same. However, according to the report, the estimated percentage increase in actual budgets is only 1.8 percent, which doesn't match rising costs; and
• Meeting professionals are spending an average of 34.3 percent of their budgets on food, 16.8 percent on technology, 16.5 percent on housing and 8.9 percent on transportation, among other costs.
 
Download the latest report here [https://www.mpiweb.org/docs/default-source/meetings-outlook/meetings-outlook-spring-2018.pdf].