What’s #trending in 2019?

To gauge what the key trends in the luxury events sector are this year, we asked ten event planners from across the globe to give us their predictions. From smaller group sizes and a greater focus on wellness and CSR to increased investment in personalisation and technology, here’s what to expect in the coming months…

Basia Dudziak, key account manager, cievents
“With the predicted increase in event volumes and the tightening of clients’ belts, destination trends are likely to favour ‘value for money’ locations. However, a desire for ‘out of the box’ programmes and unique venues, with a spotlight on the local experience will go hand in hand with that. There is still a notable trend for ‘festivalisation’ of events, which may well be reflecting the changing nature and demographic of the corporate market audience and a stronger demand for a fun, celebratory element and a creative environment alongside the educational component of a meeting, all for a richer delegate experience.

That diversification will continue to encompass well-being and sustainability, as the corporate world recognises the growing need to promote health and philanthropic efforts. There is also a lot of excitement around the direction and potential uses of creative technologies, such as Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and Artificial Intelligence, which are likely to have more applications to the meetings & events space in the coming years.”

Jan De Ridder, owner, The Boosting Group
“We expect to see more clients opt for smaller incentive groups because it enables better interaction with their clients. For example, one of our clients is now choosing to run two groups of 25 back-to-back, rather than one bigger incentive for 50. Another trend we are seeing is clients tying in their incentives with major events – this year we are taking a group to the F1 in Abu Dhabi, while last year we combined an incentive trip to the US Open with a stopover in Iceland.”

Philippe Ducarroz & Matteo Marin, founders, TRIPTICH Travel and Events
“Large corporate clients have been everywhere, but they still want to explore new “exotic” destinations in EMEA. Of course, these new destinations need to be within a short distance from international airports, safe, fun and suitable for a two- to three-day trip. Great opportunities are available for Scandinavia, Alps, Eastern Europe and destinations like Montenegro or Georgia. Meanwhile, the more mature destinations will need to review their offer and come up with exciting new experiences that can be done onsite. It will be necessary for accommodation suppliers to team up a bit closer with DMCs and the other way around. The destination will need to be offered from the moment of the proposal – a nice hotel within a charming city centre is not enough anymore.”

Montenegro

Katrina Rannard, design director, BI WORLDWIDE EMEA
“The industry is forever changing, and we’ve seen some huge developments over the last few years with the mega-merger of hotel groups. I still think there is more to come in this direction in 2019, but it also provides the more unique properties, ones with individuality and a story to tell, the chance to shine – I love Design Hotels. I’m particularly excited about some of the new developments such as Mandarin Oriental at Lake Como, Ritz Carlton Yacht Collection, Rosewood Bangkok, Andaz Vienna and Savoy Palace in Madeira.”

Steve Hodges, director of incentives, Mary Kay Corp
“One of the biggest focuses for this year is finding the right balance with group activities and free time. The trend is for more free time than it was 10 years ago. I would say that budgets are staying the same but extra attention is required now to ensure there is the best return possible attached to budgeted dollars, which means allocating money where the most impact is made. This will vary by group or even by tier within the group.”

Amanda Edgcumbe, founder & director, Powwow Events
“2019 will be about personalised agendas to make people feel special and included, strategies with a strong CSR element, venues in more unusual destinations with back to basics agendas, and menu’s based on sustainability where dietary preferences are the norm in menu selection. Embracing new technologies such as AI and using apps and social media channels to develop online communities will also be a key trend.”

Joost de Meyer, chairman & CEO, First Incentive Travel
“We’re seeing budget per head for incentives growing, but not overall budgets are there are fewer people going on the first-tier ultra-luxury trips. All-inclusive will continue to be popular for bigger and second and third tier incentive groups in the US market as it enables clients to very easily calculate their budget and know exactly what the final cost will be. All-inclusive properties have been popular in the Caribbean and Mexico for a long time, but new hotel brands launching into the space and the addition of all-inclusive properties in upcoming destinations in Central and South America will give clients more choice.”

Cancun, Mexico

Sophie Darbon, incentives project support manager, Penguins
“The major trend that will probably see an increase very quickly is the way in which businesses communicate programmes around incentives. We predict that there will be a vast increase in internal communications plans that build up to and follow on from the actual trip itself. Internal communications may include an increased use of video through employee testimonials, summarising their experiences on previous trips, or simply drip-feed information about the trip itinerary slowly to guests ahead of travel. This is all great content to use as it shows personal experiences to others who might not have been on an incentive trip yet, thus encouraging them further to achieve a place on the next trip. Penguins has been working closely with our in-house digital and communications teams at drp in order to provide new and exciting communications solutions to our incentive travel clients.”

Julia Bary, general manager, Grand Luxury Experiences
“Clients are ready to pay the prices, but they want a perfect service and easy communication. They used to pay for a large suite, a boat, a private plane. Today they pay for experiences. A large suite why not? As long as there is a story behind it. In 2019, Lapland, Iceland, Korea, Tokyo, Italy, Montenegro, Marrakech, South Africa and of course, London, Paris and NYC are still our top destinations given the regular bookings we place there. But we also expect to see more interest in India and Asian destinations.”

Iceland

Ian Cummings, vice president EMEA, CWT M&E
“We have seen an increase in the number of global RFPs from clients – probably more than 50% of the RFPs coming to us are for multi-national business and this is an ongoing trend that we expect to see continue. The real driving force behind this is data and technology – clients in major industry sectors such as pharmaceutical, retail and automotive, want to be able to collect and consolidate data across multiple markets so they can get real insight into what they are spending on meetings and events globally.”

This article is part of our first inSPIRE: the ANNUAL edit – an in-depth report on current and future trends in the luxury events and incentives market, featuring exclusive research and interviews with industry experts from across the globe.

Stay tuned – the full report will be available to download soon…

By Susie Harwood

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