Kerrin MacPhie, director of conference and exhibition sales at ACC Liverpool, looks ahead and gives her predictions for the meetings industry in 2017.
Associations will continue to be the 'staple' sector with even more venues and destinations vying for their business. They provide a strong option due to the fact they book many years in advance and often for multiple dates which makes for a healthy diary.
As budgets continue to be streamlined, event organisers will look at more cost effective options and this includes catering. In my opinion, inclusive catering will start to be phased out and alternatives such as cash catering will become more prevalent. This will increase delegate cost while reducing event cost for the client. However it may also mean that delegates may explore refreshment options off site away from the conference which will impact the all important opportunity for networking over lunch.
We need to sit up and take notice of relatively new disruptive services such as Airbnb and Uber. There has been a significant drop in accommodation booked through an organiser block which is true of the UK and globally, as reported in the recent IAPCO survey. This is set to continue, raising the question – do we need to provide accommodation booking systems in the future? As these new services develop their offer, we need to consider how we can adopt them into mainstream event planning. These organisations are here to stay and with careful planning they will be a positive addition to our event planning and delivery.
Convention bureaux will continue to face challenges, largely due to reduced funding. They therefore need to continuously review their offer and services in order to be able to provide an invaluable destination service for event organisers. As the pound weakens, we will see increased interest from overseas organisations wanting to bring events to the UK and as a result get more for their money. This means that convention bureaux will be required more than ever to respond to international enquiry demand and with reduced funding this could be under threat.
2017 will be an interesting year for the events industry, mainly in light of major political change. As always in our industry, we need to ensure we respond positively in order to keep developing and progressing.