2024 Outlook: Research & Insights Driving the Events industry

January 8, 2024
News Release

San Diego, CA, January 8, 2024 — Live from PCMA Convening Leaders 2024, Encore is sharing key research insights that meeting professionals need to know, including:

  • Hotelier expectations for event growth in 2024
  • How meeting professionals are sizing up this year’s budgets
  • How meeting professionals are thinking about measuring events’ impact on their organization
  • How the industry is defining “immersive” and “engaging” events

In addition, Encore is sharing select insights from proprietary research with leading global research firm, Kantar, on how the event industry can adapt to the changing expectations of business professionals to ensure greater event impact.

How the Events Industry is Shaping Up for 2024

Two-thirds of hoteliers surveyed by Encore in December 2023 expect their 2024 group business revenue to grow; there is more optimism than before, represented by an increase of 16 percentage points compared to the June 2023 survey. By how much? Forty-two percent of hoteliers surveyed expect revenue to grow by up to 10% and 17% expect growth between 11 and 25%.

STR predicts overall RevPAR to grow 4% in 2024, mostly driven by 3% rate growth. Group business is expected to see the most improvement in 2024.

“While the current economic outlook is better than many had anticipated just a few months ago, and we have much to be excited about for the industry, economists are cautious about the back half of the year. The important work event professionals have done demonstrating the value of events for their organizations is a driver of expectations for strong industry performance despite economic uncertainty,” said Ben Erwin, President & CEO, Encore.

Interview opportunities with Ben Erwin:

  • Leadership learnings: Partnering with Great Place to Work ™
  • Workforce strategies: Growth through putting purpose and our 12,000+ team members at the front of our story

Budget Outlook: Things Look Good for Most Organizations

For association planners, 44% expect a budget increase year over year, while 44% expect to remain flat and just 12% expect a decrease.

Corporate and third-party planners report they are less likely than association planners to cut their AV spending over other budget items.

Planners rank these areas as the most difficult investments to justify to stakeholders:

  1. Props
  2. Entertainment
  3. Offsite events
  4. In-room AV technology
  5. Food and beverage

They site ROI data as the most helpful tool to justify AV technology/production spend.

“When challenged with demonstrating the value of certain investments we aim to work with all customers up front in the solution and event design to align those choices with their organization’s objectives for the event,” said Annette Moody, SVP of Production, Encore.

How Do Meeting Planners Define Immersive and Engaging? Core Technology Plays a Big Role

Key insights from Encore’s proprietary research point to immersive technology as a key priority for planners this year. Elements that foster emotional connections, enthusiasm, collaboration, and active participation can increase concentration, sharpen focus, and form a lasting impression from the event. Immersive technology and impactful content drive engagement that brings value to the organization.

  • 93% of planners are likely to use immersive technology to engage attendees
  • 85% of planners believe that immersive experiences foster greater attendee engagement
  • 83% think the technology that delivers immersive experiences would enhance their event ROI

When asked about the top technology and production elements planners are finding the most value in the creation of engaging environments, here is what they shared.

  • Basic lighting elements, including stage lighting, GOBOS, LED uplighting – 61%
  • LED walls, monitors or totems – 52%
  • Scenic décor – 50%
  • Background music, stingers or sound effects – 48%

Association planners rank basic lighting, music, unique scenic and upgraded audio/microphones as their top selections for more engaging environments.

“These insights illustrate that simple production additions can dramatically transform an event environment. While some may think that an immersive or engaging event is something that requires only cutting-edge technology innovations, or only the biggest budgets, there is a wealth of creative possibilities available with the technology readily at our disposal,” said Annette Moody, SVP Production, Encore. “A focus for Encore this year is supporting meeting professionals in their mission to create more meaningful, impactful events with their technology choices.”

Interview opportunities with Annette Moody:

  • The value proposition for event technology
  • Education on event technology costs: the history, the business model, the ins and outs of pricing structures for event technology, internet, rigging and power distribution
  • Budgeting tips and solutions for tight budgets
  • New and not-so-new tech that can elevate your event
  • Scaling immersive and engaging experiences for small meetings to large events

More Association Planners are Measuring ROE Compared to Their Corporate Counterparts

  • Two out of 3 event planners are tasked with measuring ROI
  • Just over half of planners are tasked with measuring ROE (Return on Experience)
  • More association planners are tasked with measuring ROE, compared to their corporate and 3rd party counterparts

While most association planners who gave in-depth responses on the survey reported that they are predominantly measuring attendee feedback and the perception of the event, others noted they are measuring retention from educational sessions, along with landing page clicks, social media clicks, return attendee rates and year-over-year sponsorship revenue.

 “Measurable outcomes have always been the backbone to successful events. Where we have the opportunity as an industry to grow is to identify more specific KPIs for the greater organizational impact. How can we grow beyond overall satisfaction and understand if we’ve made deeper connections with social programming, valuable learnings with content and greater interest in association engagement beyond the event itself? That’s where we’re looking ahead in 2024,” said Tara Higgins, SVP Commercial at Encore and President, Hargrove.

Adapting to the Zeitgeist: Insights That Will Drive Designing Events for Impact in 2024 and Beyond

There’s a lot of recent discussion in the events community that our world has changed at an unprecedented speed, and we need to innovate how we create impactful events.  That premise spurred Encore to do in-depth research with the world-leading research firm, Kantar, to analyze the priorities and challenges faced by event owners. What we uncovered were powerful insights into the human experience at events. From economists and anthropologists to futurists and CEOs, the research tracks measurable and sustained macro shifts in culture and validates those broader trends for the events industry. The research culminated with ‘streetscape’ interviews with professionals around the globe to understand their attitudes, values, priorities, and needs, and it was followed up with direct customer insights from meeting professionals.

From the long-evolving consumer expectation to have a customizable, personalized experience to an increased value system around social well-being and inclusivity, key trends around people and behaviors, as well as technology and attitudes about the environment underpin the insights.

Encore has leveraged this body of work to advise the industry on how to design for impact-– the practice of optimizing the event experience to deliver the best outcomes for your organization. The research also guides a product roadmap that aligns our pipeline of technology solutions to the shifts in business culture.

“One of the defining insights that impacted attitudes in all areas of life was that 69% of global adults believe “humanness”—seeking to connect with real people—is an extremely or very important personal value. How we approach delivering on connections and acknowledging our humanness through events is key to the future,” said Higgins. Below are just a few core principles from the research.

Insight #1: Business professionals are interested in the breadth of value an event has for themselves, their organization, their communities, and society at large.

Strategic Bet: “Because our increased collective sense of humanity is what’s driving so much of how we experience the world right now, it’s a no brainer that in-person events will continue to be the driver for our industry. Where we see the near future going is in how technology fosters community in the full life cycle of an event calendar, delivering increased education, exposure and connection for an organization,” said Higgins, SVP Commercial at Encore.

Reasons to believe:

  • 74% of global adults believe businesses have a responsibility to make society fairer
  • 39% report that ‘being memorable’ is the second most important priority for events

Insight #2: Belonging and inclusivity at events is non-negotiable.

Strategic Bet: “Event planners are all quickly forming the habits and routine to ensure diversity, equity, inclusivity and accessibility at events—and if you’re not, this is your year to get started. Soon, we see the habits of fostering DEIB-A more broadly becoming second nature, ensuring belonging is the price of

entry for organizations, and not an afterthought,” said Higgins.

Reasons to believe:

  • 52% of global adults believe belonging, the feeling of being a part of a place or a group, is an extremely or very important personal value.
  • 32% of global adults believe “connecting with others” is a top three priority for events, behind “being memorable”

Insight #3: Professionals will continue to demand flexibility in how they attend work and events, as well as how they consume information and network.

Strategic Bet: “Gone are the days of one-size-fits-all for so many aspects of life,” said Higgins. “For events that means getting creative with the use of space and time to design programs, spaces and event

marketing that attracts attendees with multiple-choice options and the power to control their experience. Capitalizing on experience personalization at every event touchpoint will also create event resilience against conflicting attendee interests.”

Reasons to believe:

  • 32% of global adults believe “connecting with others” is a top three priority for events, behind “being memorable”


Interview Opportunity with Tara Higgins:

  • Business and cultural shift driving change in events
  • The importance of strategy and designing to impact


About Encore

Encore creates memorable experiences that engage and transform organizations. As the global leader for in-person, hybrid and virtual events, the Encore team of innovators and experts deliver real results

through event strategy, design, technology, production and digital solutions. Encore operates in more than 20 countries across North America, Europe, the Middle East, Australia and Asia Pacific. It is the

trusted partner of choice for more than 2,100 premiere hotels and venues worldwide. The company is headquartered in Schiller Park, Ill., within the Chicago metro area.


Media contact:

Jen Duffy