Companies are planning more meetings and larger meetings, and spending more in the process, according to a new study by Cvent, which is holding its four-day Cvent Connect show in Las Vegas through July 26, 2018, with more than 4,000 hospitality professionals in attendance at the event.

Cvent released the results of its fourth annual Global Planner Sourcing report ahead of the event, showing that companies are increasingly investing more in meeting and event programs.

[Related Content: Cvent Names Top Meetings Destinations for 2018]

The results reflect a strong corporate confidence in the economy and the positive business impact of meetings and events, which is becoming more readily realized, according to Cvent.

“There are many indicators pointing to the strength of the economy, but one of the most telling may be growth in the corporate events industry,” said Patrick Smith, chief marketing officer at Cvent. "While more spend on meetings and events is great news for the travel and hospitality industry, venues and destinations cannot fully reap those benefits until they can deeply understand what makes a meeting and event planner tick."

The Global Planner Sourcing report outlines the results of a survey of nearly 3,000 corporate event planners worldwide that explores how they source venues and what influences their decision-making.

Key takeaways from this year’s study include the following:

  • 52 percent of respondents said their event budgets have increased year-over-year, compared with 32 percent reporting increases the prior year.
  • 28 percent of planners said they are organizing six to 10 off-site meetings (up from 15 percent last year), while the number of planners organizing only one or two meetings halved (decreasing from 26 percent to 13 percent).
  • Planners reported that the number of meetings exceeding 100 attendees has grown, while smaller meetings (100 attendees or less) have declined.

Meanwhile, the study reflected that most group business is available for the taking and can be earned by any venue with great marketing plans and a strong digital presence.

  • Only 16 percent of planners said they are extremely certain of their venue when they begin the sourcing process.
  • Peer recommendations are the top influencer on sourcing decisions, highlighting the importance of venues monitoring their digital presence, ensuring they are discoverable, engaged with their customers and responsive to feedback online, according to Cvent.

Additionally, activities outside of the meeting venue have become an increasingly important consideration for event planners, according to study results.

This has also helped to generate revenues for outside businesses such as restaurants, sports arenas and cultural attractions and boosting the overall economic impact of meetings and events.

  • 21 percent of planners cited outside activities as a top influence when selecting a venue.
  • 43 percent said live music and entertainment are strategies they have leveraged to create a memorable event experience.

Meanwhile, despite growing budgets, the study revealed that costs and discounts remain important to planners, but the desire to deliver a memorable experience can help override cost restrictions.

  • 71 percent said they are extremely or very certain about what they have to spend.
  • Only 35 percent of planners said they would move to their second choice venue if it offered a more than 10 percent savings, down nearly 10 percent year over year. This helps to demonstrate the importance of other offerings like additional amenities, service levels and unique on-site experiences that can entice group business, according to Cvent.

Technology and digitization also ranked high among planners who took part in the sourcing survey, with respondents citing the importance these components play in engaging attendees.

Respondents said they have used the following tools to build a compelling experience:

  • Social media displays (36 percent).
  • Mobile event apps (29 percent).
  • Interactive polls (25 percent).
  • Virtual/augmented reality (17 percent).
  • Mobile gamification (15 percent).

To download Cvent’s 2018 Global Planner Sourcing survey, click here (some info required).