Meeting Industry Trends for 2020

Now that we’ve started the next decade, we’re looking at different event and meeting trends for 2020. Read on to find out the biggest trends for this year and beyond.

Personalized Breakout Session Plans

Most conferences rely on breakout sessions to more efficiently cover topics and reach more people. Enabling event attendees to personalize the sessions they attend yields much greater value, especially since those who come to these conferences often have different goals.

Data-Driven Activity Suggestions

Using an event app that includes data-driven activities benefits everyone, especially at conferences with hundreds of activities and sessions, networking events, keynote speakers, and more. It’s overwhelming! But these apps can help attendees customize their days and coordinators can also use the data for lessons learned and future planning.


Experts say that event planners continue to think holistically about how their conferences impact the environment. More events use recycled materials, ban single-use plastics, and take other steps to reduce the carbon footprint.

For example, IMEX asked everyone to bring reusable coffee cups to their 2019 event. If all attendees brought a cup, they would save 37,000 cups from going to the landfill.

Increased Security

According to MPI’s Lori Pugh, only about 53% of event planners actually have an emergency plan in place; however, more planners are focusing on the need to improve security. Those improvements include crisis communications, cybersecurity, and enhanced onsite security.

Different Venues

Some planners have left the traditional hotel venues in favor of other environments that offer attendees a more unique experience, choosing instead to host conferences at studios, museums, and more — depending on the industry. The Global Meetings Forecast predicted a 4% increase in using non-traditional venues for 2020.

“Bleisure” travel is a thing, with more attendees choosing to add a mini-vacation to their trip. According to the Experience Institute, 71% of people consider a conference’s location when deciding whether or not to attend.

Demand May Outpace Supply – Again

CWT Meetings & Travel predicts a 5 – 10% growth in meeting and event demand this year. Experts recommend planning ahead and booking early, while anticipating and budgeting for higher rates and less available event space. Group hotel bookings have grown 2.3% in committed room nights for stays through August 2020.

Networking Continues

After content, networking is the second biggest motivator for attendees. But in addition to planned, face-to-face meetings, they’re interested in spontaneous conversations that happen naturally. Experts recommend that planners make available both the traditional private meeting spaces but also “collision spaces” that encourage people to bump into and talk to each other, like incorporating lobbies, rooftops, and other communal areas into the event, making them focal points that invite more organic interactions.

Take Note – Music and Meetings Meet

According to Billboard, the U.S. hosts over 800 annual music festivals that attract 32 million attendees of which 14 million are millennials. As the number of millennials in the workforce rises, adding performances can engage conference attendees even more. However, the logistics are complex and executing a full-fledged music festival to complement a conference isn’t always cost effective.

More Sophisticated Venue Sourcing

Only about 16% of planners are “extremely certain” of their venue when they begin the sourcing process. A difficult, time-consuming stage of event planning, online venue sourcing resources have made it easier to find the perfect location for an event.

Venues should also invest in building a profile that helps planners to visualize their spaces, with high-quality image galleries, floor plans and layouts, and video.

Experiences + Creativity = Success

Experiences define events, requiring a mix of creativity, technology, and partnership to execute well. This year’s buzzword, “holistic” means that planners should consider content, destination, and technology in their planning. And more venues — 93%, in fact — recognize they’ve got to step up as partners in that experience creation.

According to the CWT Meetings & Events trends report:

  • 25 – 35% of marketing budgets are spent on live events
  • New York, Sao Paulo, London, and Shanghai are the hottest destinations for hosting
  • 75% of Gen Z book their travels on mobile devices
  • Event websites have increased by 52%
  • Hotel prices have increased 1.3% (USD) globally
  • Air prices have increased 1.2% (USD) globally
  • Security threats have led to the revision of 48% of itineraries

Embracing Trends

Evolving technology, shifting expectations, changing meeting styles, and more are driving the events industry trends of 2020. Whether you’re coordinating and planning events or conventions for your own company or your clients it’s important to connect with experts who can help you find — or adapt — the perfect meeting spaces or the right technology for your industry. Reach out to the experts at CREA United, who offer expertise in strategic planning, A/V surveillance, interior design, market research, security personnel services, conceptual planning, and so much more.

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