The Events Experience

2024 Events Industry Outlook and Insights

January 24, 2024 Bishop-McCann
2024 Events Industry Outlook and Insights
The Events Experience
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The Events Experience
2024 Events Industry Outlook and Insights
Jan 24, 2024
Bishop-McCann

Dive into the dynamics of the events industry in 2024 with Bishop-McCann's President and Co-Owner, Rob Adams, during this podcast episode. Gain valuable perspectives as he explores the industry's shifts and emerging trends that will define this year and beyond. Join us as we uncover key insights, analyze the economic landscape, and so much more. Topics include:

  • Lessons learned in 2023
  • Analysis of the current economy
  • Key 2024 event trends
  • Overall event industry outlook beyond 2024

Subscribe to The Events Experience, and create JOY wherever you go!

Show Notes Transcript

Dive into the dynamics of the events industry in 2024 with Bishop-McCann's President and Co-Owner, Rob Adams, during this podcast episode. Gain valuable perspectives as he explores the industry's shifts and emerging trends that will define this year and beyond. Join us as we uncover key insights, analyze the economic landscape, and so much more. Topics include:

  • Lessons learned in 2023
  • Analysis of the current economy
  • Key 2024 event trends
  • Overall event industry outlook beyond 2024

Subscribe to The Events Experience, and create JOY wherever you go!

Host: 0:01 

Hi, and welcome to The Events Experience, where we take a deep dive into everything event planning. I work for Bishop- McCann, an agency devoted to creating JOY through meetings, incentives, and events for big name brands. On this podcast, myself and our company's experts will discuss all things events, so keep listening to hear all about the latest tips and trends for virtual, live, and hybrid events.  

Hi, everyone! In this episode of the Events Experience, we are going to discuss the 2024 events industry outlook, from what's to come to this year's trends to watch. Today we are joined by Bishop McCann's President and Co-Owner, Rob Adams, who will be covering everything you need to know to be prepared for 2024. Everyone who knows Rob knows that it's very important to him to consistently be talking to clients and strategic partners in order to stay connected to the industry. Most recently, he was named Chair-Elect for Meeting Professional International's Board of Directors. With all of this knowledge, Rob will be able to provide valuable insights into the events industry. Thank you so much for joining us, Rob! 

Rob Adams: 1:10 

I'm glad to be here, Brenna! 

Host: 1:12 

And we are so glad to have you! Before diving into this year, I'd love to briefly discuss 2023. As we continue into the new year, I think it's always beneficial to discuss what we learned in the past year, so are there any key lessons from 2023 that you could share with us, whether that comes from challenges, successes, or shifts in the industry? 

Rob Adams: 1:35 

I love your question, but I could probably spend the next two hours just on this topic alone because, wow, was there a lot in 2023! You know, I think about your question. You asked about the challenges, successes, or shifts in the industry, what I always like to think about is what was the highlight of last year. I have to say, without exception, every meeting or event that I attended, the amount of exponential joy that I felt of just people being together. You know, one of the things that our team knows that I always do every time that I attend one of our programs is I always have to have a moment where I just find a place where I'm kind of a bit disconnected from the program, and I just like to observe and not ever forget the reason why we do what we do. I really think that 2023 was the year everything was amplified, of how everyone was so genuinely excited about being together. 

But there were also some challenges and opportunities. You know, you think about some of the challenges of space, and everyone was wanting to come back together last year, so there were a lot of space challenges. And I kind of put this as I think about supplyand demand. You know there's the supply of space and hotels (and gosh we could go on and on with airlines), but there were definitely some challenges around space. And another theme I would say is a lot of inconsistent demand spikes. What I mean by that is, in speaking to a lot of our clients - like we're talking to our clients and they're trying to get visibility into the timing of their programs - and a lot of programs were last minute because their stakeholders were planning a meeting last minute. And gosh, I think about so many examples of large meetings. And I say large meetings, a large meeting of let's just call it a thousand-person-plus meeting, and many times we would get a year-plus advance and sometimes six months. But then 2023, there's many times we got a couple of months "heads-up" that there was a large meeting being planned. So that definitely was something as a theme as I think about for last year. 

The next one is, I'm going to just call it technology. And gosh, technology is such a big - again another two-hour call we could have just around technology - but just other themes around security, because our clients are really focusing on security and privacy. We definitely are feeling that as an industry. And then event technology has just exploded. There was a stat that I saw that event technology, in terms of growth, is 4000% plus, and you could really see that when you were at IMEX. When I was at IMEX and looked at the expo floor, you saw how many partners were there showcasing event technology. And then the next one I can't even - I didn't lump it into technology - I'm going to lump it in its own category, and that is a thing called AI. Which gosh, I remember you and I having a conversation about this at the very beginning of last year. And when I think about that conversation in the early part of last year versus where we're at already early part of 2024, it's really been exponential. When I looked, I was just curious like, "Gosh, how much research and development has been put into AI?" And the reason why I was curious about that is if you think about the huge shifts that have happened in our lives around technology, you always, I say, follow the money - you follow where all the research and development goes. 

And you think about the significant things that have happened around technology, whether it be the shift around this thing called mobile, and how that has changed all of our lives. And I still, by the way, have to say I still love to just call people versus texting. I just can't - I'll always go back to calling people. But also the Cloud. You know, I remember when I was at Microsoft the first time I heard about the Cloud. I remember the conversation that there was going to be this Cloud and that all this data, this secure data, was going to be put into this Cloud. I'm like, "Wow." And you think about today, that's just the default. Or the other one, Excel! Think about the amount of money that was put into Excel and how that's become an integral part of our lives. But if you look at the amount of R&D put in (and again, you look at all the numbers, there's a great range of numbers that you'll see), the ranges range from $200 to $400 billion of that was put in 2023. 

Let's just say we go with a low number, and we go with the $200 billion number. I think 2023 will be the year that we will say, "What return, what change happened as a result of that R&D?" And it's a bit incomprehensible when you think about what's going to be happening around the AI landscape. But for sure, 2023 was the year of AI. And then the other one would be a bigger focus on - it's always been the case, but definitely 2023 - going back to just the purpose of meetings and justification of meetings. There was a lot of conversation with our clients and the industry around that. 

Host: 7:09 

So, keeping those lessons that you've just talked about in mind as we navigate this new year, what is top of mind for you this year that may not have been as notable last year, anything that you're really keeping your eye on for 2024? 

Rob Adams: 7:26 

Well, I mean for sure, I'm always looking at the macroeconomic factors. I know when I share in our town halls on a quarterly basis, I always talk about macroeconomic factors, and I know that's the most exciting part of every town hall when I talk about it. But it definitely is something to think about. And obviously, I talked about the amount of R&D that was being put into AI, and certainly watching what is happening around technology trends and, very specifically, staying very close to AI and where is it heading. I'm also having lots of conversations with our hotel partners. You know what trends are they saying around availability. But also looking at airline trends as well, what's happening with airline prices, knowing that the biggest piece of every budget is air as well as the hotel. 

The other thing that I'm really watching is - I think about this both as the industry and also for us, Brenna, as Bishop- McCann - I'm thinking about what are we doing as an industry to make sure that we are really investing in training and development. If you think about all of the changes that are happening, there's never been a more critical time that we invest in our talent as an industry but also as a company. To make sure not only that we're relevant, but also that we're always continuing to be thought leaders. 

Host: 8:58 

So you touched on economics a bit previously. I know that's something we're always keeping an eye on when planning for the future, but are there any key aspects regarding the 2024 economy that you'd like to share? 

Rob Adams: 9:13 

Yeah, gosh. I mean, again, this is another big topic, but you think about last year and what's happening currently is all the geopolitical things that are happening right now. You know we have the war in the Middle East, we have the war in Ukraine. And really, if you think about globally all the geopolitical things that are happening, it absolutely has a direct correlation to our industry. Also, interest rates. You know interest rates obviously have gone up, and that has an impact for clients. As their borrowing costs increase, that has a significant impact on their financials. 

Inflation - we all know the headline around inflation. It's not been good. You know, one of the things that I'm really watching is what does that look like for 2024? Again, looking at several different points of view on what that looks like, the one common theme no matter what I've read is that inflation will come down. Will it be 2%, 4%? No one knows that, but I think that I'm really watching what the correlation, what the impact is going to be from lower inflation, and what that impact will be to our industry. And then supply chain. Even though we're seeing supply chain issues get much more improved over the last couple of years, there are certain areas that we're still seeing some supply chain issues, and those always impact pricing and inflation, so that's certainly an area that I'm watching. 

Host: 10:44 

Along with looking at the economy, another important part of every new year is looking at trends. What are you seeing as the most significant trends for 2024 in the events industry? 

Rob Adams: 11:01 

Gosh, there are so many. There are so many things that are happening. If I were to say, give you the top four, one would be this focus and growth around the incentive recognition business. Why is that the case? Well, because the one thing that all companies have in common is they want to attract and they want to retain the best talent. They also are always looking at what are those things that can also have a good ROI, and certainly the incentive programs are things that have been proven to help increase sales, market share, and ultimately, retention of people. I think the other interesting thing about the incentive business is how budgets are not scrutinized as much, so we're seeing that's definitely inconsistent with the overall theme around budgets being tight. The incentive business is an area of a lot of investment, and one thing that we're seeing is that majority of all executive stakeholders believe in the power of incentive trips. 

I think AI - we talked about that earlier. It's the one thing that everybody's talking about, and when I think about AI, I have to go back and think a little bit about the conversations that I've been a part of. In conversations with industry colleagues and talking to clients, there's this thing that happens around, "What does AI mean to you? Where do you see it going?" And I think, as an industry, we have a responsibility and an opportunity to come together and really define what does it mean for us as an industry and what impact it will have. Which goes into the risk that we have around AI, and that is the inconsistency of messaging, which is also why I believe that training is really key. You know, I talked about that earlier. 

I have to say, and not just because I'm on the International Board of MPI, but I am very proud that MPI is taking a strong position around training and education around AI to ensure we have consistent training and education around AI. I also think that it's really important that everyone that we have strategic partnerships with, how are they leveraging AI as well? Those would be my top four. Again, the incentive business, AI, focus on strategic partnerships, and then training and education. 

Host: 13:37 

Right, and while these trends will be key moving forward, we also want to make sure we're prepared for any anticipated challenges that could arise. So, looking at this new year, what are some potential obstacles that you see us as an industry facing, and is there any advice you'd give event planners when facing these challenges? 

Rob Adams: 14:00 

Gosh, I have now been in the industry for over 10 years, and I'll tell you that the thing that I was the most surprised by - that our industry was most challenged by - was the lack of collaborative partnerships and how we like to keep things very close. I realized that in many cases, it was a lack of trust. But the fact that, fast forward to today, how that has all changed. And I love it that I can talk to some of our key competitors, and we call each other and talk about some of the challenges that we're facing and what solutions we're putting in place. I think that that was a challenge that's definitely changed. 

And so, as I think about the biggest advice that I can give to our industry, it's this idea that I can't think of any issue that our industry (or Bishop-McCann as a company) cannot solve through strategic partnerships. Whether it's through our partnerships like Soundings Connect (as we think about key talent), our CVBs, our DMCs, our technology partners, our hotel partners, and the list goes on and on. But if I were just to close my eyes for a minute and think about all of those people being at a table and then putting a challenge in front of them, I can't think of any challenge that we couldn't solve. So that would be my advice is to always keep strategic collaborative partnerships key. 

Host: 15:39 

Right, I love that. So, looking beyond 2024, what are your thoughts on the industry's overall outlook? In the next 5, 10, 15 years, where do you see us? 

Rob Adams: 15:53 

I'm sorry, I'm laughing a little bit at your question. I love the question, I do. But, gosh, I think about if you would have asked me that question two years ago of where I saw our industry in 5, 10, 15 years, there would have been one thing I would have left out, and that was this thing called AI. So, I like to think of when I think about the future, a point in time, let's call it five, and then looking back, what are some of the headlines that will be created during those five years? 

And one of the headlines that I can think about is how AI has created such a disruption, but an incredible opportunity to have exponential impact in our industry, for sure. I think one of the headlines - it doesn't really matter if it's 5, 10, or 15 years - the one consistent headline I can imagine is how the power of being together can never replace a Zoom meeting. It just is irreplaceable. But I think that the other headline that I can think about is going back to the comment that I made to you just a moment ago about strategic partnerships. One of the headlines that I can imagine is it's not the "what" of the growth that our industry has gone through, but "how" innovation was accelerated, and how it was accelerated by having all these strategic partnerships, I can think of that for sure being a headline. 

Host: 17:36 

So, as you know, Rob, we always love to end our podcast focusing on what we do best, which is JOY. Before we sign off, is there anything that you're most looking forward to for this new year? What do you think could bring the industry the most JOY or success? 

Rob Adams: 17:56 

So when we think about joy, I go back to the whole story around our mission of "we create JOY" and how we were introduced to a neuroscientist, Dr. Paul Zak, who had spent his entire life researching what joy is. He came up with this equation: joy equals trust times purpose. And if you think about that trust and purpose equation, you take one of those elements out, you don't get joy. So if you have a lot of trust and no purpose, you're not going to have joy, or purpose and no trust, joy is not there. As I think about the future, what I'm so excited about (even this year) is if you think about the things that are happening in our industry - how trust, safety, and purpose of not just meetings, but also I think the other thing that I'm finding as a shift is people are no longer doing the job just because of the job. They want to be a part of something bigger, and that really excites me personally thinking about how purpose can really make an impact. And ultimately, that can create a lot of joy, and how joy is something that's quite special because it also is very exponential. 

But the other thing that I would say, and I know you're going to give me a hard time about, another thing I love is a good quote, and there is a quote recently that I found that I just love as I think about the future. And it says, "If you're not willing to risk, you cannot grow, and if you cannot grow, you cannot become your best. And if you cannot become your best, you cannot be happy." When I think about the key parts of that quote - growing, becoming your best, becoming happy, having joy - I really would encourage everyone to really think about what that means to them personally. And also own that we are at a time where there is so much growth and opportunity, and this is probably the most exciting time to be in our industry. 

Host: 20:11 

I love ending on that quote - what a perfect way to wrap up this podcast! Thank you so much for discussing all things 2024 and the events industry and for helping our audience prepare for this new year. 

Rob Adams: 20:23 

Thank you very much, Brenna. 

Host: 20:26 

Thanks for tuning in to this episode of The Events Experience. Don't forget to subscribe to our podcast, and create JOY wherever you go!