3 Gathering Industry Predictions

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By: Chris Gasbarro

"There will be billions of dollars spent and millions of hours worked to forecast the coming years, and despite all of these efforts, forecasters know just as much about the next hot stock as they know the winning Powerball numbers this week."
- Warren Buffett

Mr. Buffet may not know anything about event planning, but he does know a thing about market predictions. This year, we'll hear from big agency research predictions and hoteliers hedging their bets on the new trend, but, in short, they're guess is as good as ours (and sometimes we are all wrong)!

So, we're throwing our hat into the ring. Here are our 2019 event planning predictions:

1. "Barebones" will dominate "fluff" spend.  There will still and always be the big spends on customer events with a surprise John Mayer performance - and - you will see many brands/organizations focus on getting business transactions done through meetings and events with more focused and less-fluff investments.  The bottom line: Meeting organizers/buyers are under more scrutiny for yielding results from gathering people together. This means that customers, sales reps and stakeholders' actions all need to be driven into sales. Meetings and events are temporary investments, and will resemble a well-used Cape Cod rental house that hasn't updated furniture in 10 years, but still fetches $4,000 a week and provides a great summer vacation. The reason? It's not 2009, post-recession reason.  It's going to be very transactional because if you can't justify the typical 5% increase in AV spend to have a 4K video screen tie'ing it back to selling more product, it's a waste of money. 

2. Room rates will begin falling in the next 12 months.  With a combination of some macro-economics, room inventory growth, disruption (Airbnb, accounting for 10% of major market inventory and growing) and interest rates growing, room rates will fall.  There is a consolidation of sales teams (facing direct to consumer trends), generational convergence (My parents go to Orlando, and I go to Thailand), and online behavior (the kayaks, expedias and trivagos) that have an effect, too. All of these things considered, it's about to turn into a slide!

3. Being smaller and specialized will win.  This is the 3rd time in my 20+ year career I've seen the we-do-it-all trend.  From caterer's who are also event planners, to meeting agencies who do travel, to the AV/production company who does content and my favorite.... the DJ who plans events. 'Less' will be more valued 24 months from now, and the business-world will be cherry-picking specialists and specific services.  This will occur for 2 reasons: 

  1. Invariably is the under-one-roof shops eventually expose themselves and their gaps for who they are (doing all things mediocre)
  2. In our short-term "I want it now" world - long term strategic planning is being penalized temporarily and undervalued.  Of course this isn't for all, and it won't be for long - but having seen the bubble of "we can do everything" burst a couple times.....time is ticking.

There you have it - Our crystal ball.  Check back in July of 2020 to see how we did

Chris Gasbarro