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10 Event Industry Trends You Must Know in 2024

By Victoria Akinsowon





If there's one thing we can count on, it's that the meetings and events industry is constantly changing. And 2024 is no exception, as we see the rise of AI, a greater demand for experiential events, and a renewed focus on inclusivity and sustainability.


But there are also challenges to consider, such as rising costs and the need for event, marketing, and hospitality teams to do more with less.

Read on to discover the top 10 meetings and events trends to watch out for in 2024 – and how they’ll impact your strategies in the coming year.



1. In-Person Events Dominate, but Virtual is Here to Stay

Undoubtedly, in-person events will be at the heart of most event and hospitality programmes in 2024. Face-to-face experiences provide more opportunities for deeper engagement, networking, and interaction, making them business-critical.

According to data from our Cvent platform, 86% of event programmes currently include in-person events. And in a commissioned study conducted by Forester Consulting on behalf of Cvent, 89% of global event and meeting strategy leaders say in-person events are important or critical to increasing revenue.

But while in-person events are critical, virtual and hybrid experiences are valuable and here to stay.

Our Annual Planner Sourcing Report (Europe Edition), which surveyed 635 European planners, revealed that 24% are already planning virtual events for 2024, whilst 41% are planning hybrid formats (an 8% increase from 2022). Similarly, 45% of event programmes on our platform contain virtual elements.

Why are virtual and hybrid events still so valuable? They help broaden the reach of your event and provide attendees with greater flexibility – not to mention the sustainability benefits. 

💡Top tip: Investing in the right technology to execute all types of event formats and seamlessly integrate into your CRM and other MarTech systems will be vital for your strategic success in 2024 and beyond.



2. Venues Must Support Experience-First Events

As attendee expectations continue to rise, there’s added pressure for event organisers to find unique venues that can support immersive and interactive experiences. 

However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that attendees are looking for five-star extravagance. According to our Planner Sourcing Report, almost half (48%) of European planner respondents are looking for unique event venues, with five-star service and facilities less important now (34%) than in 2022 (48%). 





Similarly, 35% of respondents to the North American edition of our Planner Sourcing Report say they’re looking for a unique aesthetic when it comes to venue selection.

Despite budget restraints, event organisers remain determined not to scrimp on the experience. And they’re looking for unique venues that can support them. 


💡Top tip: For venues and hotels, showcasing how your venue can support the interactive experiences is crucial. For event organisers, thinking outside the box is necessary. Consider non-traditional locations for your events that allow you to create experiential events that engage attendees.


3. AI Experimentation Grows


AI was one of the hottest topics in the industry last year, and with good reason. The rise of generative AI tools like ChatGPT has provided event planners and marketers new ways to automate time-consuming tasks and focus on more creative and strategic endeavours.

In 2024, we’ll see more experimentation with AI across the industry. ChatGPT and other generative AI tools will become more sophisticated and proficient in helping to develop event and campaign content


Hotel group sales managers can use AI to bring in more business travellers by using predictive analytics to forecast future demand for group sales, target potential business travellers, and anticipate changes in demand.


💡Top tip: While AI can bring significant benefits, it's important to consider the risks. Don’t treat any AI tool as a single source of truth – check any information it provides. Additionally, don’t share confidential or proprietary information with any AI tool. 


4. Finding New Ways to Reimagine Engagement

With attendees bombarded with more content than ever, event planners and marketers must find creative new ways to engage with their audiences


Attendees expect to be fully immersed in the content and event design in return for taking the time and effort to attend an event. 


An event’s ability to capture the attention of attendees increases the likelihood of them leaving satisfied, engaging with your brand’s content year-round, and returning to future events. 


In 2024, we’ll see more focus on crafting compelling content and breakout sessions, wellness spaces, and greater networking opportunities. Plus, follow-up webinars and repurposed and on-demand content will help foster community engagement year-round. 


💡Top tip: Events are arguably the most effective engagement channel, and they provide an increased number of engagement touchpoints. So, having the right event technology in place will be critical to capture and analyse this data and build engagement scores for individual attendees. 



5. Technology Unites Planners and Venues

The hospitality sector has faced ongoing staffing shortages in recent years, while marketing and event teams have been asked to do more with fewer resources or less budget.

In 2024, technology will be an important solution to these challenges.


Why? Technology improves collaboration between event organisers, suppliers, and venues. For example, venue diagramming tools can help event teams share design room layouts and seating designs with a chosen venue in real-time, improving communication and helps build closer working relationships on both sides. 


💡Top tip: Event planners should consider using single-platform and cloud-based technology to store all previous bids and contracted rates. This will make it easier to negotiate with hotels and venues to get the best deals.



6. Accessible, Sustainable Events Reflect Brand Values

Consumers increasingly expect brands to demonstrate their commitment to social issues like sustainability and DE&I. As an extension of a brand, meetings and events must follow suit.


Sustainability 


Sustainability is on everyone’s mind. In one survey, 78% of respondents said their organisations plan to have net zero goals by the end of 2024.


But while a priority, sustainability remains a challenge, with cost being a major concern for nearly 40% of respondents in the Fourth Annual Benchmark Report by ICE, in partnership with Cvent. 


💡Top tip: Embracing sustainable initiatives doesn’t have to be costly. Start small by prioritising sustainable venues and suppliers, opting for locally sourced food options, and reducing single-use plastics at your event. 


Accessibility


Some 16% of people worldwide have a disability, according to the World Health Organisation. Across the EU, this rises to 1 in 4 adults; in the UK, it’s around 24% of the population (or 16 million people).


Put simply, ensuring your events are accessible and inclusive to all is fundamental. Plus, if your events aren’t welcoming and accessible for everyone, you’re likely missing out on the opportunity to reach a much wider audience.


💡Top tip: Ensuring your meeting or event is accessible includes asking the right questions during the registration process, being intentional about the onsite experience, and providing staff training. For more tips, check out this blog post, Accessibility in Events: Tips and Best Practices.


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