February 09, 2024
By Maggie Lancashire

As we embark on a new year, it's time to uncover the meeting and events trends that will shape 2024. We surveyed 400+ event professionals in January of 2024 Northstar/Cvent Meetings Industry PULSE Surveys to get a true understanding of trending strategies and pain points within the industry.

Events remain strong and steady, with 58% of planners reporting they will plan more meetings in 2024 than they did in 2023. With this robust pipeline of new events coming, planners are looking internationally and investing in more event technology.

Let’s dive into the latest survey report and uncover some key takeaways we’ve identified to help event professionals like you continue to strategize and adjust your total event programs. Whether you're planning a corporate conference or a small social gathering, read on for inspiration that will help you create a memorable event.

The Value of In-Person Events Is Undeniable 

There’s no denying in-person events have spiked in value. 61% of planners believe their events are perceived as more valuable to their stakeholders now verses pre-pandemic. If ever the pandemic supplied a silver lining, it was to remind everyone of the value of in-person experiences.

A truly successful event leaves attendees with a memorable experience that lingers long after the event has concluded. Planners know this is true, and the attendee experience remains a top priority across the board. 

Our recent December survey confirms that 60% of planners are seeking cost savings in areas that won't diminish the attendee experience. It's all about crafting and delivering that exceptional experience, even when tightening your budget.

This trend underscores the enduring significance of in-person gatherings, highlighting their capacity to forge lasting connections and leave a profound impact on attendees.

Sourcing Struggles: RFP Response Times Continue to Disappoint

PULSE Survey Blog RFPs Notes

Picture this: event planners on a never-ending quest for that elusive perfect venue. It's like trying to find a unicorn in a haystack. As space and dates become scarcer than ever, planners are forced to think ahead and book their events way in advance. We're talking 6 months to a year ahead, folks. Talk about planning ahead!

But here comes the plot twist: while planners are dreaming of lightning-fast responses to their RFPs, the reality is a bit more...dragged out. Instead of getting an answer within two days, they're left playing the waiting game for 3 to 6 days. Frustrating, right? No wonder 49% of planners feel like their relationships with hotels and venues are suffering.

Tips to Improve Event RFP Response Times

If you’re looking to improve RFP response times from suppliers and venues, consider these strategies:

  1. Use a centralized venue sourcing platform to connect with the right global hotels and venues that match the size, scope, and goals of your events.
  2. When sending out your RFPs, consider reaching out to multiple venues at once to increase the chances of receiving a timely response (and so you can make a decision quickly once you have your RFP responses in hand). To make this even simpler, send all your RFPs from one platform so you can compare and choose the best option!
  3. Provide specific details about your event in each RFP, such as the date(s) and time(s), number of attendees, room types needed, and any special requirements or preferences. This helps venues understand your needs and respond quickly with options that meet your criteria. Including more details in your RFP from the start will also help you spend less time going back and forth to make sure you’ve addressed everything you need. 
  4. Rebuild and foster relationships with venue contacts to establish a rapport and streamline future communication. We found that 40% of planners say the loss of hotel/venue relationships is impacting their planning. You and your partners are in it together, so try to have empathy and spend time nurturing the relationship, and you’ll increase your chances of securing a timely response.

Budgets Accommodate Increase in Event Technology Spend

In a world where events hosted per year are multiplying at an unprecedented rate, event planners find themselves facing a daunting task. Sourcing the perfect venues and managing the surge has become an uphill battle. However, now they are turning to technology as their secret weapon. 

According to our latest research, a remarkable 46% of planners are planning to increase their spending on meetings/event tech and tech support compared to the previous year. This statistic speaks volumes about the recognition of technology as a powerful tool in total event programs.

From the very beginning of the event management journey to the very end of event evaluation and reporting, event tech can simplify a planner’s job and save money along the way. 

For instance, by utilizing free-to-use venue sourcing software, planners can take full control of the entire sourcing process for events of any size, in any location. Additionally, with event technology like free-to-use diagramming software, planners can further enhance event design and attendee management capabilities. 

In this ever-evolving landscape, embracing technology and leveraging the right tools and resources is crucial. With the right technology at their disposal, event planners can navigate the complexities of event management and ensure the success of their meetings and events.

Cost Savings Remain Paramount – But Not at the Expense of Experience

There’s no doubt cost savings have become a top priority for event planners (and everyone else) in the current economic climate for the last few years, which is why event technology makes all the difference. 

The latest PULSE survey highlights the persistent challenge of higher costs, with planners rating concerns over rising expenses of goods and services at an alarming 4.26 out of 5. While other worries, such as staffing and logistics, have taken a backseat, the quest to navigate these financial obstacles has become paramount. 

Tips to Help You Cut Venue Costs

If cost savings are high on your list of priorities, here are a few sourcing tips to help you cut costs on your venue:

  1. If your ideal destination is outside your budget, consider looking beyond popular locations and explore emerging or up-and-coming locations to find less expensive (though still exciting) destinations. These destinations may offer lower prices for venues and accommodations while still providing a unique and attractive experience for attendees. When in doubt, a destination management company (DMC) can help you identify and manage attractions at a destination that’s new to you!
  2. To find lower-priced venues, think about non-traditional event spaces such as community centers, public parks, and cultural institutions. These spaces often have lower rental fees than hotels and convention centers and can provide a unique and memorable experience for attendees. 
  3. Site visits can quickly eat up your venue budget. To help save time and money, consider taking a virtual tour of any venue in the world with the help of Photo-Realistic 3D Technology. Explore unique spaces from outdoor beaches to grand ballrooms, and easily check out a venue’s profile, view their 3D floorplans, and even send RFPs when you’ve found venues of interest.

Interestingly, despite high priority cost concerns, a significant 45% of North America-based planners are still planning, sourcing, or researching international meetings, events, and incentive programs that require cross-border travel. This demonstrates that cost increases have not deterred planners from splurging a bit to hold their events in the perfect location. 

While cost savings remain mission-critical, it is possible to cut venue costs with the right strategies and tools. By exploring alternative locations, considering non-traditional event spaces, and utilizing technology for virtual tours, event planners can find cost-effective solutions without compromising on the quality of the event.

Venue Bookings See Longer Lead Times

Interestingly, we found that more and more planners are booking venues farther out from their event dates. In the January report, 57% of planners report they’re seeking to book new business more than one year out, up from 37% in June.

This presents an interesting challenge for hotels and venues, as these longer lead times give planners ample time to research, compare, and negotiate before choosing a venue. This means planners are no longer booking the first available hotel – they can be pickier with their selections.

Of course, simple meetings shouldn’t be so complex to book or manage, and planners shouldn’t need to plan so far in advance. To simplify the booking process, consider using an Instant Book tool, which offers live inventory, filtered searches, room rates, and meeting packages without needing an RFP.

Q1 Meetings Industry Wrap-Up

Despite cost concerns, it's refreshing to see a robust demand for international events among North America-based planners. A significant 65% are actively planning, sourcing, or researching international meetings, events, and/or incentive programs in Europe. This trend seems to be a sign the show must go on, and the attendee experience is what matters most.

With optimistic outlooks ahead in 2024, we aim to help you navigate these waters, formulate your best total event program strategies, save time and effort, and ensure your events are a resounding success.

By leveraging the right tools and resources, planners can stay ahead of the curve and continue to deliver successful and memorable events, no matter the challenges ahead.

Want a closer look at these trends? Check out the latest Northstar/Cvent Meetings Industry PULSE Survey, and stay tuned for our next PULSE Survey recap!

Maggie Lancashire

Maggie Lancashire joined Cvent in 2018 following the Social Tables acquisition and has since become a valuable member of the team. With years of experience working in client services, Maggie is well-versed in the needs of event planners who utilize Cvent technology to strategically plan their meetings and events. Maggie's passion for the events industry led her to transfer to Product Marketing, where she could put her extensive knowledge of Cvent's products and services to use. She loves collaborating with customers and colleagues to develop effective marketing strategies that drive business growth. Maggie understands the significance that event technology brings in our ever-changing environment and believes it plays a vital role in the success of any event.

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