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Industry Insights from Global DMC Partners’ 10th Annual Connection

Global DMC Partners President & CEO Catherine Chaulet delivers the keynote address at Connection.

Inflation may be steadily returning to target rates, but the meetings and events industry is getting there at a slower pace. Will adjusting budgets be enough to help the nearly 80% of meeting planners who say expenses are only getting higher?  

Global DMC Partners (GDP), the largest global network of independent destination management companies (DMCs) and specialized event service providers, addressed inflation rates, budgets and more trends at its 10th annual Connection event, which drew nearly 200 attendees who came to learn about the state of the meetings and events industry.  

Here are some key insights, information and takeaways from this year’s Connection.

Business and Travel Trends

Kicking off the program’s general session, Global DMC Partners President and CEO Catherine Chaulet delivered the keynote address, “Decoding 2024 Global Business and Travel Trends,” which provided a comprehensive analysis on the state of the industry with invaluable insights for business leaders and meeting planners navigating today’s ever-evolving economic landscape. Highlights include:

Attendees at Global DMC Partners' 10th annual Connection.
Attendees at Global DMC Partners' 10th annual Connection. Credit: Global DMC Partners

Economic Resilience and Inflation Trends

  • Steady growth: Despite global uncertainties and negative news stories from the media, growth actually remains steady with inflation returning to target rates.  
  • Resilience across markets: Unexpected resilience in various global markets suggests a soft landing for the economy.
  • Inflation challenges: Although inflation and energy prices are decreasing faster than anticipated, certain sectors, particularly meetings and events, continue to face higher inflation rates.

These trends are impacting meetings and events through:

  • Rising costs: According to Global DMC Partners’ 2024 DMC Survey, DMCs reported a significant 30% increase in pricing across airfares, accommodations, staffing and other essentials, with 79% of event professionals noting higher expenses, according to Boldplus.
  • Budget adjustments: Budgets are increasing primarily to offset rising costs rather than expanding services or experiences.
  • Top challenges: Planners are grappling with higher costs, budget management, availability of venues and timely approvals from decision-makers. Meanwhile, DMCs are challenged by overall market pricing, working with clients’ budgets and meeting deadlines of shorter lead times.

[Related: 4 Major Highlights From IACC 2024 Meeting Room of the Future Report]

Creative Solutions and Rising Trends

  • Creativity is a huge challenge, particularly when coupled with tight budgets.
  • There is a heightened commitment to sustainability and a renewed focus on smaller, simpler meetings. During a live poll at Connection, 45% of attendees reported they struggle with incorporating sustainability into programs and 40% indicated that they find sustainability overwhelming.  
  • Innovative partnerships like stronger collaborations with vendors help expand talent and access to resources.
  • Out-of-the-box thinking can lead to creative approaches in decor, food and beverage, audio-visual solutions and leveraging AI for cost management and efficiency.
  • There is a growing emphasis on wellness programs that include healthy food choices, advanced recovery technologies and work-life balance.
  • A strong DEI commitment increases focus on diverse speaker panels, accessible venues and inclusive programming to foster collective belonging.
  • The event sector is experiencing a significant boost in AI applications, projected to grow to $1.8 billion by 2024, according to Allied Market Research, enhancing everything from content creation to participant engagement and data analysis. A live poll at Connection revealed that Chatbots are the most popular AI tool with 42% of attendees reporting usage. 

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