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2024 Meetings Forecast_Email

2024 Meetings and Events Forecast

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Meeting and event numbers continue to sit around 90% of the pre-pandemic levels of 2019  (according to Knowland’s Hospitality Group and Business Performance Index), and optimism and recovery continue to be the themes surrounding meeting and event professionals' feelings going into 2024. When asked how optimistic they were about the health of the industry, 84% of American Express’ North American survey respondents chose an 8 or higher (on a 10-point scale), up from 77% last year and just 71% the year before. Full-on optimism has seemingly replaced the cautious optimism of post-pandemic years passed.  

Meeting Activity 
North American respondents expect 81% of their meetings and events in 2024 to have an in-person component, with 63% fully in-person, and 77% expect that their attendee numbers will return to 2019 levels in 2024. Internal meetings and client/customer advisory boards are expected to see the biggest increase in 2024, with 42% of respondents saying there will be more of both next year. The other meetings and events expecting growth are 38% in incentive events, 37% in small and simple meetings, product launches, and senior leadership meetings (each), 35% in conferences with trade shows, and 30% in conferences without trade shows. 

Meeting Activity_Infographic (1)

Meeting Spend
Most planners believe budgets are increasing but not at a pace to keep up with inflation or other rising costs. Sixty-seven percent of respondents said their budgets were increasing, but only 13% said they were increasing by more than 10%. In North America, overall meeting spend is expected to increase by 4.2% over 2023. For context, global inflation is predicted to ease to a still hefty 5.2% in 2024, down from the previous 8.7%. 

Meeting Spend_Infographic

Meeting Locations
The top two factors planners say influence their location are ease of travel for their attendees and if a specific type of location is required (i.e., near the client’s corporate office). Nearly half of events (46%) are being held in a city different from the companies’ corporate offices. Respondents reported changes in their meetings and programs due to economic uncertainty. Forty-four percent said they are having more virtual meetings, 37% said they’d changed their destination or lodging, 31% said they are having fewer events in general, and only 13% reported they have seen no changes at all. Of those whose attendee numbers haven’t fully recovered, 47% attribute it to cost, 41% to attendee health concerns, and 40% to attendee safety concerns. 

Meeting Locations_Infographic

Cost savings measures and attracting attendees are some challenges expected to carry over from 2023 into 2024. American Express respondents said that if their overall budget were reduced by 10%, the first area cut would be the number of nights (19%), the second would be off-site optional activities (14%), followed by food and beverage (11%). In the December 2023 Northstar Pulse Survey, 60% of respondents said they would find cost savings in areas that will not diminish attendee experience, and 24% are planning for fewer events.  If budgets were to be increased by 10%, 25% of respondents would focus on improvements in the on-site experience, 18% would increase the number of attendees at the meeting(s), and 17% would increase the use of technology.  



As the meeting and events industry continues its recovery and evolves, 2024 is expected to see several new trends emerge. Here are some of 2024’s top (and, at times, continuing) expected trends: 

  • A focus on DE&I (diversity, equity, and inclusion). The top three ways organizations are incorporating DE&I into the events are choosing diverse speakers, providing the option to attend an event virtually, and ensuring presentations or content topics reflect DE&I  principles. Nearly a third of respondents say they strive to choose diverse or minority-owned suppliers whenever possible.  Be sure to check out our Increasing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Your Event and our Accessible and Inclusive Event Signage blogs for some great ways to make your event more accessible!
  • The continued and increasing focus on sustainability. Seventy percent of respondents say that sustainability has already been strongly adopted in the meeting program, and 69% say sustainability is extremely important for their organization. Seventy-eight percent of respondents said that their organizations either already have net zero goals or plan to implement them in 2024. Fifty-eight percent of North Americans are likely to have explicit language about sustainability in meeting policies, and 69% consider sustainability when planning events. Nearly a quarter of all respondents (24%) say their biggest challenge to implementing sustainability into their events is a lack of knowledge, skills, and resources. If you need resources around sustainable events, check out our Ultimate Guide to Sustainable and Eco-Friendly Events
  • The increased popularity of Bleisure travel. Bleisure travel has become an integral component of the events industry, transforming business trips into more enriching experiences. This trend is expected to grow in 2024 as planners embrace the concept of blending business and leisure travel and give attendees increased opportunities to explore destinations beyond the conference venue.
  • A focus on enhancing attendee experience and well-being. In 2024, meeting planners are prioritizing the holistic well-being of attendees by curating events that not only stimulate professional growth but also foster a sense of balance and mindfulness. They’re incorporating wellness activities, relaxation spaces, healthy food and beverage options, and other amenities to enhance the overall attendee experience. 
  • The increased use of data and analytics. Meeting organizers will leverage advanced data and analytics tools to gain deeper insights into attendee preferences, optimize event logistics, and personalize experiences. The increased integration of data-driven decision-making allows planners to refine content delivery, enhance engagement, and tailor events with precision, ultimately ensuring a more tailored and impactful attendee experience.
  • The rise of AI (artificial intelligence). Planners are using AI to streamline logistical processes, automate routine tasks, and analyze vast amounts of data for more informed decision-making. This allows the creation of events that are not only efficient but also customized to the unique needs and preferences of attendees. For some ideas how you can utilize AI at your next event and some real examples on best practices for prompts be sure to check out our blog Mastering AI for Meetings & Events.
  • The continued rise of hybrid events. Meeting planners will continue to capitalize on the best of both physical and virtual realms, offering participants the flexibility to engage either in-person or remotely. This format accommodates diverse preferences and global participation.


In addition to these top trends, several emerging trends are worth keeping an eye on in 2024. 

  • The use of experiential design. Planners will focus on creating immersive environments through sensory elements, interactive technology, and innovative spatial arrangements. The experiential design will captivate attendees and provide a memorable journey that enhances learning, networking, and the overall attendee experience. If you’re looking to incorporate more experiential design in your events, check out our Ultimate Guide to Meeting and Event Graphics, which explores everything from simple switches to non-traditional event venues.   
  • The use of VR (virtual reality) and AR (augmented reality). VR and AR can be used to revolutionize attendee engagement by transporting them into immersive virtual environments or enhancing their physical surroundings with interactive digital elements. Expect planners to leverage these technologies to create memorable and dynamic experiences that can foster deeper connections among participants and open new possibilities for innovative content delivery and collaborative interaction.
  • The use of chatbots and virtual assistants. Planners will leverage these technologies to enhance attendee engagement and streamline communication. These tools can be used to provide real-time information and personalized agendas and facilitate seamless Q&A sessions, ensuring participants can access relevant information and support easily and effortlessly.

2024 is shaping up to be a robust year for the meeting and events industry.  With both optimism and event numbers continuing to climb, the industry's health continues its recovery to pre-pandemic levels.  While navigating increasing budgets and changes in event priorities persist, planners everywhere are adapting to evolving trends and turning these obstacles into opportunities for even more memorable and successful meetings.  If you're looking to stay on top of the latest trends or for some outside-the-box ideas to bring value to your attendees, your sponsors, and your brand, be sure to check out blog pages for the latest on the event industry and news!

Courtney Zgraggen
Written by Courtney Zgraggen

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