What’s in Store for the Events Industry in 2024?

Knowland and ConferenceDirect’s fourth annual “State of the Meetings Industry” report shines a light on planners’ challenges and opportunities, from cost containment to AI adoption.

Author: Michelle Russell       

survey cover with man speaking and pointing

More than two out of five respondents to Knowland’s State of the Meetings Industry survey expect to book more meetings in 2024 than they did in 2023.

What does the “2024 State of the Meetings Industry” report tell us? In a nutshell: Some challenges event organizers have faced post-pandemic have lessened while others have increased; the year ahead is expected to be a healthy one for the events industry, but we lag behind other sectors when it comes to sustainability and tech adoption.

The fourth annual survey of meeting planners includes the responses of 326 event professionals. Published by Knowland, an events industry sales intelligence provider, in partnership with global meetings solution company ConferenceDirect, the survey was sent to ConferenceDirect associates via newsletter and email late last year.

“The survey is designed to give hotel/venue operators insight into the challenges, expectations, and preferences of meeting planners as they work to grow their group business in 2024,” Katrina Pruitt-Andrews, vice president of marketing for Knowland, told Convene via email. “It also provides insights for the industry into expectations and trends for meetings and events in the coming year.”

The majority of the survey respondents — 63 percent — worked for associations; 31 percent booked events on behalf of corporations; the remainder of respondents worked for government and SMERF organizations. Here’s what they had to say:

More Meetings/More Attendees

Meeting planners are optimistic about 2024, with more than two out of five survey respondents expecting to book more meetings than 2023. Nearly half — 48 percent — anticipated no change and nearly one out of 10 expect the number of events they book to decrease.

More than two out of five planners expect an increase in attendee numbers of up to 10 percent in 2024; 17 percent anticipate a 20-percent or more growth in attendance.


At 37 percent, twice as many planners said they are “very satisfied” with venue responsiveness compared to survey participants last year. About half are moderately satisfied; and under 2 percent are dissatisfied vs. 12 percent who said the same last year. According to the report, the increase in satisfaction with venue responses can be attributed to staffing improvements and new technology.

One quarter of planner respondents said they are getting fewer responses to their RFPs. Two out of five planners send RFPs to up to five venues and more than one-third to as many as 10. “Hoteliers may have become more selective to get the best fit for their properties,” according to the report. “With today’s higher group demand, hotels can be more discerning by responding to RFPs that address need periods best and offer greater profitability.”

Going for Broke

Unsurprisingly, the main gripe nearly half of planners have with hotels or other event venues is continued high costs. “Rising prices put pressure on delivering high-quality events within budget,” according to the report. “The need to cut costs has led to shortened meeting duration, alternative destinations, and fewer/lower cost activities or F&B — impacting attendee experience.”

Respondents expect F&B and AV to have the highest price increases this year.

Alternative Spots

In response to higher costs, groups are more likely to relocate events to secondary markets — more than half will consider the same chain scale in a secondary market and nearly two out of five will consider both lower chain scales and less expensive markets.

Top Trends

The two top trends influencing meetings are DEI and attendee well-being, chosen by 60 percent and 57 percent of planners respectively, followed by sustainability, digital engagement, and artificial intelligence.

Not so Environmentally Minded

While sustainability was recognized as a top trend by 45 percent of respondents, the report says, this is an area in which “the meetings industry will need to up its game in the coming year.” More than one-third of planners say groups have some sustainability protocols, but almost half indicate their meetings do not have sustainability requirements. A mere 3 percent said they have sustainability goals and are doing carbon-neutral events.

AI Adoption is Limited

Four out of five planners agree that AI offers value for personalized mobile apps and personal assistants to enhance the attendee experience. But they are less inclined to use AI in daily operations or “game-changing digital applications to boost event performance by finding new registrants for events — at least for now.”

Michelle Russell is editor in chief of Convene.

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