What Does 2016 Hold For Events Management?

Indirect spend has long been a critical piece of the spend management puzzle. “Complex spend management,” the moniker given to approaches for managing indirect spend categories such as events / meetings, business travel, marketing materials and services, and contingent labor, has been growing in strategic importance in recent years, as more and more businesses find that these categories have true corporate value.

For the category of meetings and events, the pace of business and the evolution of technology has certainly transformed the way organizations develop, organize, plan, and manage the many complexities within events management programs. Along with its “sister” spend category of business travel, events are one of the biggest budgetary items for the average business, and spending on meetings is only going to increase in the years ahead.

The current business landscape has altered events management programs, so much so that, in 2016, management of this category will be markedly different than it was in the past:

Mobility is no longer a perplexity.
A few years ago, mobile events management applications were proven to drive value, but very few organizations had the true technological power to arm their event planners (and attendees) with apps for enhanced on-site management. Although mobile apps are more viable today, adoption isn’t where it should be. In 2016, mobility won’t be a perplexity…it will be a standard for how attendees are better-engaged and planners develop their meetings.

Alternative booking sources alter the transient management side of events management programs.
Over the past 18 months, alternative booking sources (such as Airbnb) have altered business travel and expense management programs. In fact, some of these sources have even developed corporate solutions for B2B purposes. Expect these booking sources to become a bigger part of the transient travel side of corporate events management.

Big Data becomes Big Intelligence.
The notion of Big Data has moved well past the stage of “business fad.” For events management, Big Data will become Big Intelligence: intelligence into the needs and requirements of attendees, engagement levels and “emotional ROI” of live and virtual events, and the impact of ongoing events on corporate budgets for spend management and supplier management purposes.

Events management becomes a true strategic corporate imperative.
Much like business travel, business events are linked to enterprise growth, increasing sales, improving client and user relationships, and enhancing the overall company brand. As other business functions that were once considered “back-office” or more tactical in scope, like accounts payable, becoming more strategic in nature, events management in 2016 will finally see its impact on the greater evolution of a company’s global growth.

2016 will be an exciting year for events management, especially considering the items above and the impact of business evolution on how companies not only plan and develop their meetings, but also engage attendees.


Christopher J. DwyerChristopher J. Dwyer is a Research Director at Ardent Partners, a Boston-based supply management research and advisory firm. He is considered a thought leader in the spend management industry, with recognition from Supply and Demand Chain Executive Magazine as a “Pro to Know” in 2013. He has written hundreds of research studies and reports on the evolution of procurement, finance, and other key functions (such as events management), and can be reached at cdwyer@ardentpartners.com or on Twitter (@CJD_Ardent). Visit www.cporising.com to read more of his research.