Looking forward to 2015

2015 newOur acting CEO, Nicolette Elia-Beissel was recently asked what she thought 2015 would hold for the Meetings Industry.

Here are some of her predictions for the year ahead:

I believe that the business events industry will continue to reflect the economic realities of the country as a whole, although the industry should perform slightly better than the sluggish growth rate demonstrated in national economy in recent times. Whilst business is still tough for many sectors, the need for direct interaction through meetings and business events remains strong as organisations strive to find solutions to the prevailing economic climate.

The current trends in the meetings industry include the on-going and ever-expanding digital revolution, the appeal of the destination and venue, the need for innovative meeting formats and “doing more with less”. These factors will no doubt shape the way meetings will be held going forward.

Technology will continue to impact the events experience and the way venues aim to meet their clients’ requirements. I do not believe that virtual meeting options will lead to the demise of face-to-face meetings as people still crave and appreciate human interaction, however conference delegates and exhibition visitors are a lot more tech-savvy than ever before where uninterrupted wi-fi and digital information is expected when attending events.

Conference organisers are more selective than ever when selecting their ideal location and venue, and expect an unprecedented volume of information about the destination, its attractions and the venue before considering a location to host their event. The industry must be willing to provide this information quickly and effortlessly if they hope to keep the interest of new potential clients.

The traditional use of meeting space is also evolving and clients are becoming increasingly interested in creative new configurations and innovative use of meeting settings.  In order to keep their audiences captivated, encourage interaction and ensure their events attract the numbers they require there needs to be a break away from stale and predictable event formats. Innovative use of outdoor space, smaller areas for intimate gatherings and organic seating configurations are all popular requests which are here to stay.

From an international perspective, the total number of meetings held worldwide is set to increase slightly, albeit below historical norms and with marginally smaller delegate numbers at each event. The trend of smaller, more focused and interactive meetings seems set to continue over the next few years as associations move away from a one-size-fits-all mentality toward more specialised niche events.

Steadily Africa will continue to attract increasingly more important global events, as evidenced by some of the key events scheduled for the Durban ICC in the years ahead. The Centre will host the world’s largest aviation exhibition, the World Routes Development Forum in 2015 and the International AIDS Conference in 2016, which is expected to attract over 18,000 delegates to Durban. These events will continue to showcase the country’s ability to host high-profile international events and affirm South Africa’s significance as a global business events destination.