Keeping Ahead of the Game: Meeting and Event Trends from the Chairman of MPI

Kevin Kirby

When it comes to the latest trends, it seems everyone has an opinion and a blog. But here’s some trend info coming from the real deal – the 2015-2015 Chairman of the Board of Meeting Professionals International (MPI), Kevin Kirby.  Mr. Kirby recently traveled across the country visiting scores of regional MPI chapters, including the Connecticut River Valley Chapter. Kevin Kirby knows what going on in the industry.  And fortunately for us, he shared his latest intelligence for 2015!

Kevin Kirby, an event and marketing veteran from Universal Studios, Disney and the Hard Rock International, provided insight into the state of the meeting and events industry and how US economic trends are affecting it.  Below is a summary of his comments derived from the MPI Meetings Outlook Report. It was an interesting discussion on what event planners should expect in the upcoming year, and it was almost all good news!

Let’s start with an overview of current landscape of the events industry across the US.
•    1.83 million meetings and events are held in the US annually
•    $280 billion spent
•    Creates 1.8 million jobs
•    Average cost per person at a meeting is $400.

 

 

Training, educational events and sales meetings will be the most common types of events in 2015 with substantial increases over 2014.

 

Now we know that the events industry has a significant impact on the US economy.  On the flip side, there are also issues of the US economy that have a direct impact on the meetings and event industry. For example:

–  The US economy is slooww-lly growing and businesses are gradually recovering.  Therefore, event budgets are continuing to be scrutinized and raised only when necessary.

–  Terrorism is still (sadly) a part of our daily lives as well as communicable diseases (Ebola, measles).  At the same time, group travel is flat.  Is that a direct connection?  One thing is for sure: air travel is expensive and has hazardous implication, leading to second thoughts on where and how to travel as a group.

–  With the highest US trade deficit in history, commodities cost more. This leads to increased prices in food costs and catering.

–  Hotel expansion has been slow in the past few years since there was a steep decline in discretionary spending and business budgets were cut. Now that events industry is moving forward, there is a shortage of hotel rooms in prime areas, leading to higher prices.

–  Expect cost increases for: Hotel Room Rates: 3.9% , A/V Rentals: 3.1%, Air Travel: 5%, Food, Beverage, Catering: 4%

Nothing compares to face-to-face meetings for building
relationships. The 2015 CT Economic Forecast (pictured above)
had a standing-room only crowd.

 

Of course, in an expanding economy comes more opportunities and demand for meetings and events.  Even with online communications becoming the norm, nothing compares to a face-to-face meeting to build powerful personal relationships. In short, the events industry is definitely on an upswing, marching alongside the upturn in the economy. All indicators point to a promising year.

 

Meet Kevin Kirby

The 2014-2015 MPI Chairman of the Board is a senior global sales and marketing executive with more than 20 years’ experience advancing entertainment-centered hospitality brands. He has served in leadership roles over the course of 18 years for Universal Studios, Disney Parks and Resorts and Hard Rock International, where his responsibilities focused on marketing, promotions, and global sales. Kevin recently launched his own company, The KIRBY Consulting Group LLC. He has been a champion and architect of multi-platform strategic initiatives, including integrated advertising campaigns, new product launches, e-commerce, CRM engagement, and business development.

Throughout his 15+ years as an MPI member, he has served on numerous international committees, as an international board member since 2008, and as an executive committee member since 2010. Kevin is a proud member of MPI’s Greater Orlando Chapter. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio with a dual major in International Business and Sales Management. He resides in Windermere, Florida with his wife, Jennifer, daughter Taylor (13), son Colin (11) and energetic white labradoodle Lucky (3).

 

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