It’s always difficult to gauge what the future may hold, but that truth is ever more poignant amid a pandemic in an especially uncertain world. And in an industry, such as meetings and events, that relies on togetherness and human connection (which may be restricted in the name of public safety), it’s even more complex to foretell what tomorrow may bring. But that doesn’t mean we’re not going to try to predict what’s going to happen next and prepare for upcoming challenges.
In that vein, Meeting Professionals International (MPI), the world’s largest meeting and event industry association, recently published its Summer 2021 Meetings Outlook, a future-focused quarterly report that identifies new trends and innovations. The publication allows meeting planners to budget and plan accordingly, and ensures a strong foundation for building sound strategies to keep meetings on a path to success.
Meetings Outlook reports present future industry trends and predictions from MPI members, including meeting professionals on MPI’s Business Research Panel. Research is conducted in house using the Qualtrics survey platform. The research is conducted quarterly and provides current business conditions and future outlooks.

The Future Outlook of the Meetings Industry

The optimism and business expectations recorded in the Summer 2021 Meetings Outlook report are the highest ever seen, while eager and innovative meeting professionals envision major growth for the year to come for hiring, budgets, attendance and more, even as coronavirus variants threaten to sidetrack recovery. An astounding 93% of respondents are projecting favorable business conditions over the next year, making this the second consecutive quarter with record-breaking positive expectations. Compare that to last summer, when only 36% of respondents were anticipating positive business conditions for the year to come.
Furthermore, the percentage of respondents anticipating favorable live attendance over the next 12 months (77%) is at an all-time high. For comparison, last summer, only 11% of respondents predicted favorable attendance to come. Meanwhile, 84% of survey respondents have been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus — roughly double that of U.S. and Canadian averages.
Presented with 10 social and economic attributes that may or may not affect destination selection, the two that respondents most often said make them more likely to choose a location related to embracing diversity, equity and inclusion, and robust public transit. On the flipside, the two attributes that most make respondents less likely to select a destination include strong unions and less restrictive gun laws.
“There was historic optimism among industry leaders about the industry’s future growth in Quarter 2, with a never-before-seen 93% of meeting professionals predicting favorable business conditions over the next 12 months and hiring numbers that have grown to match pre-pandemic rates,” according to Jessie States, CMP, CMM, director of MPI. “This data may not reflect current realities as the delta and other coronavirus variants spread globally and regions react in real-time to local conditions.
“That instability may impact decision-making and long-term planning for the return of some events. It’s important not to take last month’s numbers in isolation, but rather consider them as a reflection of a moment in time. November’s Meetings Outlook will show whether the optimism and growth are sustained trends.”
The Meetings Outlook report was developed in partnership with IMEX Group. The full report can be found here