Six Meetings Industry Trends to Know Ahead of GMID

April 09, 2024
Blue and white Global Meetings Industry Day Social Graphic with picture of two women smiling

The U.S. Travel Association is gearing up for another Global Meetings Industry Day on April 11, 2024, so it’s time to check in on some meeting industry trends worth knowing. With last year’s record engagement, the event demonstrates one thing clear: meetings matter.

As the travel industry looks beyond talk of recovery to talk of growth, it’s important to take the pulse of what’s going on with meetings, incentive travel, conferences, and events. While the goal of supporting destinations and their communities remains at the heart of it all, the approaches to achieving that goal are constantly changing.

We took a look at the research and reports out there—including our own—to understand the meetings industry trends defining our work this year and beyond.

1. Smaller Meetings for the Win

According to Knowland’s “2024 State of the Meetings Industry,” there are plenty of challenges facing destinations looking to connect with meeting planners. One stat, however, reveals that targeting smaller meetings are a strategic way to book events.

The report revealed that more than 50% of meetings in 2023 had less than 100 attendees. Statistics suggest that the average meeting attendance for 2024 will be below 2000.

This spells opportunities for destinations to market themselves to smaller events and meetings, which will be increasingly prevalent for the foreseeable future.

2. Less Experienced Staff, More Problems

The latest trends report by CVENT, “Meeting and Event Trends You Need to Know for 2024 – and Beyond” underscored another common theme in the Knowland report. Staff shortages are causing problems.

While talent attraction in the tourism industry is a complicated issue—see our report on understanding what the tourism workforce wants—one thing is clear. Staff shortages lead to less experienced staff and weaker working relationships.

This challenge is an opportunity for destinations and their local meeting industries to buck the trend and upskill their workforce. At the same time, it’s a chance to reconsider talent attraction strategies to help bolster workforces at convention centers and other meeting industry venues.

3. Secondary Locations On the Rise

Knowland, a leader in meeting intel,  also reported 53% of meeting planners would choose a secondary location—not Las Vegas or New York, for example—to cut costs. This is especially important as multiple studies, including CVENT, report that meeting planners are working with lower budgets.

For destinations that aren’t usually on the radar of meeting planners, such as Lake Tahoe and its new Tahoe Blue Event Center, there is big potential here to make yourselves known. Non-traditional choices, especially when they offer less expensive experiences and planning fees, can break out in 2024 with the right marketing strategies.

4. AI Everywhere, Sort Of

Curt Wagner, digital editor at PCMA Convene, doubled down on the presence of AI nearly everywhere in the meetings industry. From planning to wearable tech that collects data at events, AI will be working behind the scenes as we move forward in more obvious ways.

According to a white paper by The Hague & Partners Convention Bureau, almost two-thirds (63%) of association meeting planners reported that they used AI to plan an event. While it was a small sample, the study also suggested that AI training is not widespread yet. This year, there will be a trend—or at least one must emerge—where business travel professionals step up their game with AI by upskilling their existing workforce (see #2) and applying AI more strategically to their event planning and execution.

5. Hotel Rates Rise, Albeit Slowly

2023 was a big year for higher prices at many hotels, but according to American Express Global Business Travel Trends and Insight, rates in 2024 will only inch up incrementally. This is an opportunity for destinations seeking to attract business travelers and meetings to reconnect with planners who are seeking ways to cut costs. 

Presenting hotels and offers that are more budget-friendly than they seemed in 2023 is a step towards signing the deal.

6. Experiential and Transformative Spaces

In addition to hotels—which are still vital to business events travelers—meeting planners are also looking to more creative venues to host events. According to the Annual Planner Sourcing Report (Europe Edition), more planners (48%) are looking for venues like cinemas or restaurants that are experiential first. 

This echoes DCI’s own research into the rise in demand for transformative spaces, underscoring the need for destinations and their traditional meeting venues to build and promote experiences into their offers.

This Global Meetings Industry Day, get your destination on board with these meetings industry trends that will boost your reputation among planners and decision makers. Get in touch with Director of Business Events Pamela Laite at [email protected] to learn more about working with DCI to achieve your goals.

Written by

Pamela Laite

Director, Business Events