IBTM Trends Watch report paints a picture of opportunity

IBTM’s much anticipated IBTM World Trends Watch report has been unveiled today to a global audience of meetings and events professionals at IBTM World in Barcelona. The report paints a picture of a changing world but one with myriad exciting opportunities for the meetings and events world to seize.

Reflective of the rising number of challenges and opportunities presented by technology, new for this year is a chapter dedicated to tech trends. This section of the report asks which new industries are likely to converge with technology and points to ways that the meetings and events industry has already embraced ITC, such as sensory tracking, VR and AR, as well as the many potential ways that the industry might use technology in the future.

The annual report, which looks at business, geography and technology, and relates them back to business events, brings together over 25 key sources of existing industry data and interviews with industry luminaries. Compiled and written by Dr Rob Davidson, Managing Director of MICE Knowledge and Alistair Turner, Managing Director of EIGHT PR & Marketing, it is designed to provide a snapshot of the current state of the industry, as well as a forecast for the year ahead.

IBTM World 2018- Dr Rob Davidson
IBTM World 2018- Dr Rob Davidson

Commenting on the report, Alistair Turner says: “While we are undoubtedly living through an age of uncertainty, there are some real opportunities for the industry. It’s evident that there is growth in both industries and economies around the world and this is feeding genuine confidence within meetings and events.

“What’s also clear is the impact technology is having on our industry and the opportunities that are being presented as a result. This year we decided to explore the macro trends within the global technology industries, and here we found evidence of dynamism within business, the creation of entire new industries, and the regeneration of historically unmoving ones – all great news for the meetings and events industry as this dynamism drives communication, opinion leadership, meetings, education, networking, sales exhibitions, professional congresses and product launches.”

In-depth country by country analysis highlights growth opportunities in South Africa with high hopes for new leader Cyril Ramaphosa as well as the potential benefits from North Africa’s first high speed rail link. In Asia Pacific, the report points to China’s trade dispute with the U.S. as of particular significance, while Australia is looking to be an increasingly strong market.

The market in Europe remains positive, with mature markets demanding enhanced engagement and innovation. And, despite ongoing Brexit negotiations casting uncertainty over how the final deal will play out for airlines, visas and border control, the popularity of London as a destination has not abated.

Latin America looks to be on the ascendant, while North America, though affected by trading difficulties with certain countries, has had a buoyant economy throughout 2018 and into 2019 that is driving growth in the meetings and events industry. And the Middle East, faced with continued volatility in the oil market, is turning to business and leisure tourism to boost their economies, leading to increased growth in the region’s meetings and events economy.

Commenting on the outlook for associations into 2019, the report points to research carried out by ICCA finding that destinations are taking more control in harnessing their local intellectual capital to attract events and put on their own events, in partnership with the ambassadors, communities and those involved in the knowledge economy.

In terms of incentives, the report finds that spend per person has increased, as has the number of people eligible for incentive trips. At the same time cost savings have become more important. In the incentive world, ethical choices are key, not just in terms of location but also activities. Discussion around wellbeing has increased both inside and outside the industry, and demand for incentives which incorporate a wellbeing element has soared.

Shane Hannam, Portfolio Director, IBTM World says: “The IBTM Trends Watch report provides a valuable starting point for debate and discussion as well as helping to inform business choices for the year ahead. The report echoes our findings on the growing influence of technology in events, something IBTM World celebrates this year, as well as the continuing robustness of our industry. We are looking forward to another productive and exciting 2019.”