CWT Meetings & Events today released its 2019 Meetings & Events Future Trends report, which predicts a growing demand for meeting and event space, and an increase in the average size of meetings in nearly every region.
In North America, group size is expected to increase by 14 percent in 2019. Average hotel prices will rise by 2.8 percent, resulting in higher costs for meeting buyers. And, with higher oil prices beginning to affect airline profits, average fares will increase by 1.8 percent.
Lead times will continue to expand. Events of 100-plus attendees, which require a ballroom and breakout spaces, are now being booked between four to six months in advance, while events for 400 to 500 delegates are being planned six to nine months ahead. Booking more than one year in advance is becoming the norm for major conferences and conventions.
Also noteworthy: Demand is rising for unorthodox spaces and activities, particularly in the U.S., U.K. and Europe. Treehouses, rooftops and even islands will become increasingly popular as attendee experience is top priority.
Among projections by region:
North America: Capacity crunch in key cities
A surge in the opening of new hotels across New York City has helped moderate rates and make the city a more attractive meetings destination. New York has added 45,000 rooms over the past 10 years, taking the total up to 118,000 rooms. This is expected to continue, with another 18,000 rooms due to be introduced by 2020. One major city seeing a hotel capacity squeeze is San Francisco, which will keep prices high - particularly as the city is already the number-one meetings destination in the U.S.
Latin America: Slow but steady
The major economies of Latin America have seen very different fortunes over the past few years: Brazil and Argentina have suffered severe recessions, while Colombia and Mexico have enjoyed relatively stable GDP growth. Despite challenges across this vast region, signs point to improving economic conditions and future demand for meetings. However, 2019 is expected to be slow, with hotel prices dropping by 1.3 percent in 2019, and air prices decreasing by 2 percent.
Asia Pacific: Growth continues
Asia Pacific will see continued growth in 2019, with the average meeting size up by 3 percent and China seeing consistent expansion year-over-year. Countries such as Vietnam, Myanmar and the Philippines are seeing a meetings and events buzz, as multinational companies establish their presence, with more inbound and outbound travel from these markets predicted for the coming year.