Virtual experience economy set to grow, says IBTM Trends Watch report

The virtual experience economy is set to be the next big area of growth for the meetings and events sector, according to the annual IBTM World Trends Watch Report.

The full report, which analyses the future of the meetings and events industry, was unveiled on the first day of IBTM World in Barcelona. Alistair Turner, managing director of EIGHT PR and Marketing and author of the report gave IBTM World delegates an insight into some of the trends identified in the report.

The report explores the progression of the experience economy into the virtual experience economy and considers how this may change the meetings and events landscape, and what new opportunities it presents. The report predicts that this new trend will mean more than just new technologies integrating into existing events, but the creation of an entirely new industry which sees ‘digital’ and ‘experience’ merge.

Major global issues, including climate change, are also assessed in the report, along with an evaluation of what we can do as an industry to contribute positively to the solution.

“This report aims to take a short and medium-term look at the global meetings and events industry and the political, economic, ecological and geopolitical trends that will affect it,” said Turner. “This year though, we predict a major long-term trend, the virtual experience economy, that could be as influential as the experience economy was before it.”

Emerging destinations, such as Africa were also highlighted in the report. The region was identified as a “sleeping giant that is waking” and is predicted to become a major player in the events industry.

“There are new convention centres and congress centres being set up, it’s a really important territory that is well worth looking at in the events industry,” Turner added.

Along with Africa, Latin America is also a destination that is maturing rapidly to attract larger meetings and reported a 40 per cent increase in bookings.

David Thompson, event director of IBTM World, said: “The much anticipated IBTM World Trends Watch Report is an important gauge for the current state of our industry, as well as a valued and trusted source of information and industry opinion about what the future might hold. The 2020 report highlights some exciting developments, as well as more serious global issues, and ultimately looks at how the meetings and events industry might play its part in those future opportunities.”

The chapters in the report are: a global economic outlook for 2020; an overview of global trends; an exploration of different industry sectors including automotive, banking/finance, esports, information and communications technology and pharmaceuticals; an insight into meetings and events performance including corporate events, associations and incentive travel; technology trends and regional variations.

Alistair Turner, Managing Director of EIGHT PR & Marketing, compiled the report using more than 25 key sources of existing industry data, case studies and interviews with industry leaders including Sherrif Karamat, CAE, President and CEO, PCMA; Mark Cooper, CEO, IACC; Senthil Gopinath, CEO, ICCA and James Latham, producer, The Iceberg.

The IBTM Trends Watch report 2020 is available to download at