Surekha Ragavan
Nov 28, 2018

IBTM World Trends Watch Report: Outlook for 2019

On why the industry is more confident than ever and the unstoppable rise of Shanghai.

Shanghai will see 125 projects set to introduce 25,750 rooms.
Shanghai will see 125 projects set to introduce 25,750 rooms.

As IBTM World in Barcelona moves into full swing, the annual Trends Watch Report makes its rounds among delegates. One of the key points made in the report is that most industry associations reported “confidence” about the impending year.

For instance, members of Meetings Professionals International (MPI) stated that they’re positive about hiring more people in 2019 especially given the “capacity, resource and bandwidth” to fulfil the association’s potential. Paul van Deventer, CEO for MPI, said that the industry has not grown complacent and event professionals are proving their worth by better demonstrating return-on-investment.

Meanwhile, Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) is also looking to invest in crisis communication education for its members and shares the same focus of MPI. Similarly to the former associations, PCMA believes that this “confidence” is reflective of a more professional, and robust industry.

Some trends that will inevitably emerge in the coming year is wellness, experience, security, and the role of millennials. On the latter, the discussions around millennials have mostly taken on the tone of a more demanding delegate with a shorter attention span, and with increased needs around technology, sustainability and connectivity.

While MPI’s research supports this theory, its Outlook Report shows that 58% of respondents believe that sessions are becoming more niche, and that 30% of respondents are expecting individual session times to go down as delegations’ attention spans drop.

In a more detailed regional study, the report showed that Asia Pacific will continue growing over the next year with the average meeting size up 3%. Unsurprisingly, China, one of the region’s key markets, will see consistent expansion year-on-year.

The growth in this region is closely linked to an increased willingness by organisations to spend on meetings and events and although per-day spending on delegates will be down 4% to US$276 in 2019, average group size will increase by 3% to 81.

To quote CWT’s Meetings & Events Future Trends report, Shanghai and Beijing have a strong regional and global presence, allowing them to compete for international conferences with other major regional destinations such as Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, and Sydney.

China accounts for more than half of Asia Pacific’s new hotels (59%), which will add more than 500,000 rooms to the country’s portfolio. The report added that Shanghai will see the biggest rise in hotels with 125 projects set to introduce 25,750 rooms – this is expected to strengthen the city’s position as the number one meetings destination in the region.

In the meantime, second-tier cities such as Chengdu and Chongqing, are more popular for domestic meetings and events as well as international exhibitions and trade shows. Additionally, Sanya, on the vacation island of Hainan in southern China, is growing as a destination for annual meetings.


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