Meetings Today: How do you think 2019 will shape up for the meetings industry? Where do you see costs (hotel, restaurant, venue prices, etc.) going? Do you think your budget and/or attendance will increase or decrease? Why?

For my bigger groups, attendance relies very highly on grant funding. Often the grants are in place for many years and that provides security in attendance. However, when they come to an end there is always the scramble.--Ilene Page, Global Meeting & Event Planner, Front Page Events, Palo Alto, Calif.

All prices are going up. I do feel my attendance will be going up as well.--Stacy Wald, CMP, Director of Meeting Events, Data Trace Management Services, Towson, Md.

Flat to small increases unless some economy shattering event takes place.--Gary Schirmacher, CMP, Senior Vice president, Industry Presence & Strategic Development, Experient, A Maritz Global events Company, Boulder, Colo.

I only see costs going higher–especially because there is more demand for hotel rooms and meeting spaces. Our budget will increase (cost per person) but attendance will likely stay the same or dip a little.--Liz Whitney, WLP, International Warehouse Logistics Association (IWLA), Des Plaines, Ill.

Costs will continue to rise. My personal challenge is to try and secure new sponsors to help shoulder the burden and allow me to still provide the same level of service to my attendees.--Wendy Sutowski, CMP, Director of Events, The American College, King of Prussia, Pa.

I see costs continuing to increase at hotels, restaurants, venues, etc., and those places not negotiating as much. Because of our client's business and the type of programs, attendance is required and won't decrease, but the company as a whole may have to cut back on activities and extras or may need to choose less expensive locations.--Gina E. Allega, CMP, Senior Program Manager, Meeting & Event Services North America, BCD Travel, Cleveland

Flatten and the costs will rise at small amounts, and budgets and attendance will still increase but by small amounts: 2 percent-5 percent.--Debbie Kopkau, Director of Certification, MBA, CAE, CMP, GMS, Michigan School Business Officials, Lansing, Mich.

I think we’ll see a softening of hotel room rate growth and continued increases in F&B and AV pricing. I think more groups will walk away from hotels that aren’t willing to negotiate, as their budgets flatten. We’ll likely continue to see consolidation of hotel companies and brands within the larger companies as they look for efficiencies in their operations and marketing. Costs have got to start to flatten, as I hear more and more grumbling about the cost of AV, coffee, service charges, Wi-Fi, etc. Clients are going to start pushing back and becoming more creative with meal alternatives. Forward-thinking suppliers will provide lower-cost alternatives (i.e. food trucks with an F&B minimum) to group meals. Some of our clients are cutting back on the number of group meals they’re providing because of cost, especially with service charges nearing 30 percent in some markets. Suppliers will continue to feel pressure, as they need to provide their owners a return in an environment of flattening group budgets, tightening labor markets, higher wages and increasing supply costs. I think we at the start of an economic slowdown, and that is going to start putting more pressure on the hotels and other suppliers to keep pricing in check.--Scott Shellman, Principal, Framework Meetings and Destinations, Coeur d'Alene, Idaho 

I think hotels/venue prices will increase as less people use them; they need to pay for the infrastructure and yet budgets and attendance will continue to decrease. I think there will be some huge hotel consolidations coming to take out the number of players to equalize cost and stabilize prices.--Geoffrey S. Duncan, Director of Sales & Marketing, Radius Display Products, Dallas

Prices are always going up. The opposite is a recession, and who wants THAT? Yes, my budget is going up and attendance will increase for no other reason than there is a cumulative effect on marketing. We have always asked “How did you hear about [our event]?”, but this year we started asking, “How long ago did you first hear about [our event]?” when attendees register. Some are saying they’ve known about us for years and finally got approval to attend. So if you plan for the long term, create exceptional attendee experiences (which we’ve been doing long before it was a fad in the meetings industry) and then promote the exceptional experiences you DO create, you’ll be fine. (For example, we always sit down with the chef and come up with a really amazing menu for our conference. But then I publish the menu before the conference. This way, if a potential attendee has a choice between me and a competitive event, they’ll see how much more fun OURS is and come here, not there. We do this with the conference recap video as well.)--Jack Molisani, Executive Director, The LavaCon Conference, Long Beach, Calif.

Business is going up do attendance should increase. I do not see any real increases in cost.--Carl Lambrecht, General Manager, Laurel Industries, Highland Park, Ill.

I believe people will still, and even more so, be flocking to meetings. There’s nothing like getting away for education, creativity, and networking. It works. I see costs rising, my budget rising and an increase in attendance. I’ve already seen costs rise from venues, therefore, I’ve had to increase my expense budget. I haven’t been able to increase my revenue budget just yet until I see if my theory is correct that more people will attend in 2019 and the results of changes in my marketing strategy.--Diana Bryant, Director, Conferences & Meetings, TVPPA (Tennessee Valley Public Power Association), Chattanooga, Tenn.

We have made a lot of changes to stay relevant with the younger generations to stay current and attractive.--Tracy Orpin, CMP, IAAP, Kansas City, Mo.

I believe we will hold strong for the most part of the year and if we see rates drop or attendance that this will be in the later part of the year.--Katie K Riggs, CMP, CMM, CAE, HMCC, VP, Client & Conference Services, Raybourn Group Int., Indianapolis

I think meeting industry will have an increase impact on the economy because meetings are more becoming hubs for problem solving.--KD O'Neal, CMP MBA, Conference & Event Services Manager, University of Dallas, Irving, Texas

I don’t think that there will be much of a significant difference, taking into account the industry globally. I do think that rates will continue to inevitably rise, but again, not massively.--Jef Robinson, Global Category Manager–Travel & Meetings, Anonymous, London

Hotels are increasingly demanding higher rates. Our budgets are going through the roof with F&B costs that are super high so we are ordering less food for the delegates to stay on budget.--Leslie Zeck, CMP, CMM, HMCC, Director of Meetings, International and American Associations for Dental Research, Alexandria, Va.

I think hotel costs will continue to rise. Especially as labor unions start to renegotiate their terms and/or results of recent labor strikes. I think most organizations budget will stay around the same, even though attendance will increase. I think planners are going to continue to be asked to do more with the same budgets.--Megan Martin, CMP, MPA, Senior Meeting Manager, National Conference of State Legislatures, Denver