by Loren G. Edelstein | December 01, 2014

In early November we asked meeting planners what they expect their business to be like in the coming year (see the results here). Following are some verbatim comments from respondents.  

What is the most significant change you expect with regard to the meetings you plan next year?

• A bit better attendance and outside collaboration with others

• Locations are becoming busier and making it more difficult to contract; having to go to higher rates.

• Better volunteer leadership

• Need to do more with less money

• We will downsize some of our events in order to add a few additional in different regions of the country to reach more customers.

• No advance planning whatsoever -- just do it

• Consolidation of companies

• Fewer government-awarded grants given and thus, unable to offer the meetings next year; lower corporate sponsorship

• Tighter attention to contracts

• State budget is being cut.

• Holding more of them as a revenue stream

• More challenging to get space/room block desired, hotel room rates

• Higher costs

• More interactive

• Adding several seminars; concerns regarding facilitator, housing and catering costs for new meetings

• Increase in attendees

• Budget decrease

• Decreased number of internal events

• Potential increase in size due to acquisition of another company -- or job eliminated due to acquisition

• Partnership with a third-party organization; more complex function space

• Market turning from a buyer's to a seller's

• Working more to centralize across the organization the strategic planning of the event

• More e-marketing and social media presence

• Recycling

• More difficult negotiation process with hotels and venues

• Our goal is to plan further in advance.

• I think companies have held back so long that they are to the point where they must move forward with innovations or risk losing market share. So many are waiting for the other guy to make the first move, but you can only do this for so long. Unless all heck breaks loose 2015, should see positive movement in many organizations.

• Higher overall costs

• Doing more with less money

• Our clients are beginning to cut out paper programs and go more to event-specific apps.

• More videoconferences, less travel, fewer real meetings

• More exhibitors sharing booths instead of buying their own (we lost three  exhibitors this year because of sharing)

• More apps used with less reliance on printed programs

• Fewer people attending

• Sponsors are returning to events.

• More virtual meetings

• Our company is splitting, so there are a lot of unknowns; not sure how the new executive team will perceive the value of event marketing and face-to-face meetings.

• An increased attendee count and higher quality expected with little to no budget increases for certain meetings

• More people staying outside room block due to lower rates at other hotels if booked short term

• More use of resort with amenities vs. downtown property

• Increased focus on connectivity during meetings -- social media, audience polls, virtual options

• Uncertainty in the size of our organization; we are growing at a rapid rate and it's difficult to predict space needs.

• Increasing costs, more dependence on Wi-Fi

• More webinars than ever before, siphoning off some previous years' meeting attendees.

• The ever-increasing use of technology to impact meeting planning, execution and attendee engagement

• Moving one event from hotel-based to convention center; growth and change

• Our organization will be taking on more events.

• Tighter budgets, leaner programs

• Bringing on an additional person to help the workload. Meeting planning is a small fraction of my job currently. Will meet in Mexico, China, EU next year, in addition to U.S.

• More demand going into less available inventory

• More larger meetings

• Finding the best and most effective ways to communicate/market my event to sustain attendance

• We plan to host meetings in Asia for the first time in 2015.

• Someone new to take over my function

• Greater participation from Asian attendees

• It will be the first year we will host workshops. We are a small business.

• We have had a significant increase in the budget for marketing and advertising, so we are hoping to have more participants.

• Perceived terrorist and disease threats

• Significantly increased attendance; difficulty finding meeting hosts for some of our Working Group meetings both domestic and international

• Increased volume of event frequency; better leverage of social media to drive attendance

• Increased number of meeting rooms required

• Change from hotel venue to in-house venue for meetings

• New registration company and launch of smaller regional shows

• Less lead time to plan

• Less availability for short-term meetings

• No paid speakers.

What is the biggest challenge you expect to face in planning meetings next year?

• Convincing more to attend and derive benefits to organization they represent

• Increasing the attendee count at our annual meeting

• Staff support at events

• No advance planning whatsoever; am expected to just do it, and do it right

• Decreased funding -- lower corporate sponsorship and fewer government grants

• Lack of knowledgeable convention services and sales personnel at large hotels

• Corporate underwriting

• Matching venue to size

• Just much tighter on budgets this year

• Higher expenses, lower revenues

• Participation; we need to make sure that we draw attendance

• Ever increasing hotel and A/V costs with no corresponding improvement in hotel services

• Keeping the same level of hotel service while maintaining a comparable room rate to previous year

• Offering high-quality speakers and food experiences without raising the ticket prices based on increase in expenses

• Heavy workload with minimal staff

• Room block management with services such as Airbnb

• Staying within (or as close to) budget as possible

• Doing more with less

• The unknown factor of our pending acquisition -- whether it will affect the size of our meetings or not. It's hard to plan ahead without knowing size and structure.

• Having staff make location decisions

• Content and evaluations

• Social media presence; increasing costs of advertising and services

• Indecision by clients without clear budget parameters

• Being able to do it all myself -- no staff

• Although we are on the move up, I think people are still taking a wait-and-see approach. There is so much world volatility that the slightest thing could send things reeling again (see Ebola scare). We really are living in unsettling times.

• Managing the team with efficient elimination of waste

• Getting members to attend

• The biggest challenge that I expect to face in planning meetings in 2015 will be to be as creative as possible on a tight budget as a new startup.

• A/V costs

• Being allowed to have face-to-face, out-of-town training; pressure to do webinars instead

• Finding available hotels with adequate meeting space and sleeping rooms at a reasonable price

• Managing overall increases related to the cost of planning/hosting conferences/meetings

• Cost of hotels, A/V, flights

• Board not having a clear vision on how many meetings to have and when; having to plan around our national association's meetings

• Offering apps without meeting space Internet

• Increased hotel room prices

• Continuing to keep sales pipeline of meeting clients full while servicing existing clients

• Making the event engaging enough

• Uncertainty of the perception of our new executive team and their value of events/meetings

• Getting information to potential attendees

• Finding adequate space within the budget delineations, especially in this seller's market situation

• Filling the seats and/or booth with prospects

• Had problems at the same facility in past with theft by the center's own security

• Hard to find available dates at the price point attendees demand

• Perception that meetings aren't valuable to conduct business

• Predicting attendance and planning accordingly

• Tighter budget for expenses but expected higher net revenues, while keeping registration fees the same or lower

• Providing increased connectivity within current budget

• Uncertainty in the size of our organization. We are growing at a rapid rate, and it's difficult to predict space needs.

• Getting more people to attend the events while at the same time keeping costs down

• HELP!!!

• It again appears to be a seller's market, leading to tougher negotiations

• Always the same: increasing the number of participants

• Time management

• Global hotel costs

• Time -- to plan, hire, train, organize; to juggle everything simultaneously

• More demand going into less available inventory

• Communications overload. The 2016 presidential campaign drama begins in 2015; how to get through the muck to share news about my event

• Fighting executive misconceptions about realities of meeting costs, time needed to plan and inaccurate expectations of meeting ROI

• Lack of a convention center hotel

• Finding and training that someone

• Providing new and different networking opportunities

• Tackling costs; handling logistics

• Maintaining attendance

• Maintaining the quality and feel that we're giving our attendees more than they expected

• New internal leadership

• Reduced travel budget and difficulty finding meeting hosts for some of our meetings both domestic and international.

• Instituting fees to offset costs (but not generate positive cash flow); we've trained our attendees to believe that everything is free

• Self-management of in-house details

• Trying to assess what costs will be for locations picked for brand new events (N.Y. and Chicago)

• Attendance; our industry is "over-conferenced"