Annual Industry Study Reveals Top Meetings Trends for 2024

April 12, 2024

What are the top trends expected to have the biggest impact on the meetings and events industry in 2024 and beyond? 

Meeting planners are expecting live event attendance to grow over the next three years, but they are also facing rising costs, a wider impact on destination selection due to politics and a growing importance of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) of meeting attendees and speakers, according to the 7th Annual State of the Meetings & Convention Industry

Conducted by creative insights firm Future Partners in collaboration with travel and tourism strategic marketing consultancy Miles Partnership and B2B-focused travel and tourism marketing agency Digital Edge, the study reveals planners foresee that using artificial intelligence (AI) to increase efficiency and improve attendee experience, along with forging strong partnerships with convention and visitors bureaus (CVBs) to support their events, are key to their future success.

“Shorter booking windows both for planners and attendees, as well as heightened expectations for live events make the evolving job of meeting planners challenging,” said Erin Francis Cummings, president and CEO of Future Partners. 


Designed to evaluate the current state of the industry and highlight insights about the benefits and challenges ahead, the study is based on a survey of 479 U.S. meeting and event professionals across a variety of sectors, including corporate, association, SMERF and third-party planners. Fielded from Dec. 20, 2023-Jan. 19, 2024, the survey also gauged the value of the CVB or destination management organization (DMO) in the event planning process.

“A core objective of our research is to develop a deeper understanding of the value CVBs can provide meeting planners and identify ways they can work together towards the ultimate success of the destination and event,” said Francis Cummings. “Treating the relationship like a true partnership with proactive solutions, responsiveness and an inclusive attendee-experience mindset makes all the difference.”

Key findings

Soaring costs, negotiation challenges: Meeting planners are still being impaired by soaring costs, staffing issues and hotels’ unwillingness to negotiate. 

  • 24.7% of planners believe their negotiating powers with hotels will decline. While down 11 points year over year (YOY), it’s still the attribute planners most commonly agree will decrease in the coming years.
  • Destination selection is heavily influenced by hotel experience, with planners rating hotel/meeting facility service levels (81.6%), hotels – quality (81.6%) and hotels – rates (80.2%) as high or extremely high importance.
  • Planners are seeking creative solutions to soaring F&B costs, including sourcing boutique event centers as an alternative to using hotel meeting space, and 17.1% of planners expect service levels to decrease at hotels/meeting venues in the next three years.
  • Planners are seeking AI solutions to make meetings more efficient and improve attendee experience. Some respondents said they plan to use AI in sourcing venues/destinations.

Attendance growing, political impacts: Planners expect increased live meetings attendance figures but expect politics to have a wider impact on destination selection. 

  • In-person and hybrid events are demonstrating their staying power, with planners anticipated to host an average of 6.4 live events and 4.5 hybrid events in 2024.
  • 63.5% of planners expect attendance figures for live meetings to increase over the next three years (up 16 points YOY).
  • 61.2% believe the impact of local politics on destination selection will increase.
  • More than half (53.2%) of planners agreed that controversial issues caused planners to reconsider destinations.

Aligning values: Planners anticipate a growing responsibility to align their members’ values with both the destination and their meeting agenda. 

  • Nearly two-thirds (64.1%) of planners agreed with the statement: “A destination must align with our members’ values in order to host our meetings/events.”
  • More than half of planners (60.3%) anticipate an increase in the importance of DEI of meeting attendees and speakers while the importance of sustainability certifications (55.5%) and an increase in corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives (52.0%) are being incorporated into meeting agendas.
  • More than three-quarters (77.7%) are open to sourcing new destinations in the U.S. they have not considered before, particularly third-party, sports and SMERF planners.

Looking ahead

The study emphasized that as the demand and expectations for meetings and events grow, CVBs have a critical opportunity to showcase their meeting destination and form strong planner partnerships. A majority of planners (84.0%) reported they were certain or likely to use a CVB in the next 12 months, according to the report.

“Building a welcoming environment for meeting attendees takes time, persistence and a collective effort,” said Melissa Cherry, chief diversity and inclusion officer at Miles Partnership. “Destinations that understand the attendee experience and inclusivity in event planning can be instrumental in helping planners reach wider audiences. Those who can adapt to varied preferences will come out on top.”

The 2024 study underscores a transformative trend happening in the meetings industry today: the growing need for events to resonate with their attendees’ values on every level, said Digital Edge Co-Founder Mya Surrency.

“By fostering strong relationships with DMOs, planners can lean on the destinations’ expertise in navigating the challenges in the market to produce events that are not just successful, but also meaningful,” Surrency said.

Request a copy of the State of the Meetings & Convention Industry 2024 report here.


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