These days, not a week goes by without receiving a call from someone interested in my thoughts on various marketing projects cropping up in the meetings industry. Our options for direct marketing were limited during the pandemic, but today, we are overwhelmed by the sea of suggestions daily flooding our inboxes.

My most common reply is that marketing in our industry is more like a marathon, not a sprint. I don’t believe in instant solutions that have been mushrooming in all segments. They can be magical venue finders, instant trade shows for luxury tourism, dubious SEO campaigns, or the omnipotent experts that have neither the know-how nor the tools yet still make complex brandings for destinations and brand strategies.

Excellent marketing sells itself, giving answers to perennial life questions, whereas poor marketing is more often a mere copy and caricature of itself. It seems the latter have been outnumbering the former in 2024. Above all, marketing should be human-centric, always putting the individual – guest or event attendee – in the centre. One-way communication should be replaced by strategic and socially responsible communication.

Successful marketing has developed at the crossroads of psychology, sociology, anthropology and economy. Lately, a budding interdisciplinary science, neuromarketing, has joined these scientific branches. It aims at exploring cognitive responses by consumers to a plethora of stimuli. Using neuroscientific methods is relatively uncommon in the meetings industry. Nonetheless, it provides event organisers with detailed answers to pressing questions, which ordinary, often biased market research cannot offer.

We must ask “Why something work and how”, not the classic marketing dilemma “What works and what doesn’t”.

Bolstering new opportunities and inspiring clients has moved to digital platforms. They are hungry for quality content and marketing. That is why I tell most colleagues seeking advice to start solving the problem on their website. In a way, a website acts as the showroom of a company, event or destination.

The international market of event organisers is limited

We must consider that the market of event organisers is not endless. In addition, event professionals with serious projects don’t have time for various events that seem to be invented weekly. They are, by far and large, devotees of events and partners of events that have an established brand and enjoy credibility within the community.

Photo: Marko Delbello Ocepek

Kongres Barometer 2024

Hence, it is high time you stop relying on your gut feeling and listening to your colleagues’ advice. You must develop tools and techniques to measure the effectiveness of your sales activities instead.

Our editorial board once more conducted a comprehensive international survey dubbed Kongres Barometer. This year, 299 event organisers from across Europe participated in the survey. We selected the most noticeable trends in marketing and sales from the survey. The findings were contrasted with data from last year’s Kongres Barometer, helping us gain a trustworthy overview of key trends and insight into event organisers’ perspectives.

1. Key marketing strategies (ranked from 1 to 10)

  • 9,6 Content marketing
  • 9,4 Direct marketing and sales
  • 9,2 Marketing at events (trade shows, trade fairs, workshops)
  • 8,3 Social media marketing
  • 6,8 SEO optimisation

n = 494 (265/2023 and 229/2024)

Among all marketing tactics, telemarketing or phone marketing experienced the most noticeable dip. Surprisingly, influencer marketing dropped in popularity, too. Media buying is stagnant, whilst the number of event organisers trusting guerilla marketing is rising.

2. Most used Martech tools 

  • 3,86 CRM (managing client relationships)
  • 3,61 Analysis of website (such as Google Analytics)
  • 3,59 Tools for managing and following social media
  • 3,54 Platforms for e-newsletters (such as MailChimp, Klavio, etc.)
  • 3,53 CMS (system for managing content)
  • 3,51 SEO tools (optimisation for finders)

n = 494 (265/2023 and 229/2024)

Compared to last year, the use of platforms for digital tools and VR tools experienced a drop among event organisers. In the meetings industry, the percentage of multipurpose marketing tools such as Adobe Marketing Cloud, Salesforce Marketing Cloud and Oracle Marketing Cloud is relatively low. Using platforms for the automatisation of marketing is considerably low, too. We believe there are unused opportunities in this field.

3. In which marketing areas will you ramp up or scale down your activities in 2024?


– Marketing through social media platforms
– Digital marketing
– Trade shows
– Content marketing


– E-books, brochures, whitepapers, etc.)
– Direct mailings (newsletters, coupons, prize games, etc.)
– Fam trips
– Video content


– Webinars
– Sales calls

n = 494 (265/2023 and 229/2024)

Compared to 2023, investments in fam trips have slowed down, as many event organisers faced issues ensuring the quality of attendees. Interestingly, investments in trade shows have increased. As a marketing tool, trade shows seem to be growing in relevance compared to last year. The same applies to direct marketing in the form of e-newsletters.


4. How important will the following forms of marketing be in 2024?

Attending B2B trade shows and exhibitions? Attending fam trips?
80.3% Yes73.7% Yes
11.8% Not sure17.1% Not sure
7.9% No9.2% No


n = 494 (265/2023 and 229/2024)

More event organisers are unsure if attending B2B trade shows is still important compared to 2023 (6.4% more respondents). The percentage of event organisers who don’t believe in the power of trade shows has grown smaller (-5.1%).

The number of event organisers who don’t believe in the relevance of fam trips has grown by 3%, as has the number of those who are unsure (0.2%). The percentage of event organisers who doubt the importance of fam trips has reduced by 3.2%. The level of trust in fam trips has reduced by 3.2%, whilst the level of trust in B2B trade shows and exhibitions has dropped by 1.3%.

5. Which trade show or business event do you consider most effective and brings added value?

Cumulative percentage of all respondees:

1. 60.95 % IBTM World
2. 58.75 % IMEX Frankfurt
3. 39.05 % IMEX America
4. 37.60 % Conventa
5. 18.25 % Meetings Show
6. 17.50 % ICCA Congress
7. 17.05 % M&I Forum
8. 12.80 % ITB
9. 12.20 % FITUR
10. 10.70 % Meetex
11. 10.30 % MCE CEE
12. 8.55 % WTM
13. 7.25 % AIME
14. 7.05 % BIT
15. 6.70 % IT&CMA Bangkok

n = 494 (265/2023 and 229/2024)

The measured percentages speak volumes about the worth of brands from the viewpoint of hosted buyers. As a new form of events is coming up, we predict that the brand image of individual trade shows will act as a magnet for attracting hosted buyers.

Information received from colleagues and references from past projects seems to enjoy the most trust.

6. Which information sources do you trust most?

  • 60,9 % Word of mouth
  • 55,5 % References of providers
  • 42,9 % Expert research
  • 40,3 % Articles in trustworthy media
  • 26,3 % Salespeople

n = 494 (265/2023 and 229/2024)

Information received from colleagues and references from past projects seems to enjoy the most trust. Trust in expert studies and credible media platforms is on the rise, too. Social media and blogs have lost the most trust due to their corporately curated content. Podcasts are on the up, interestingly.

Photo: IMEX Group

The above are just some of the answers to our pressing questions. We will release the findings of the Kongres Barometer on Friday, 28 June 2024. We invite you to continue following our surveys for planning your next marketing campaign, destination video or making decisions about your next event. Remember that all that glitters is not gold.

Editorial by Gorazd Čad

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