June 25th, 2024

Global DMC Partners Hosts 10th Annual Connection

Nearly 200 meeting professionals and suppliers gathered in Punta de Mita, June 6-9, for one of the industry’s most educational, collaborative and global conferences

Global DMC Partners (GDP), the largest global network of independent destination management companies (DMCs) and specialized event service providers, recently concluded its 10th annual Connection in Punta de Mita, Mexico, June 6-9. Co-hosted by local DMC partner Tropical Incentives and host hotel Conrad Punta de Mita, this year’s highly anticipated event held up to its decade-long standing as the premier education and networking conference for meetings and events professionals. Nearly 200 attendees traveled from every corner of the globe to learn key insights and trends, share best practices and foster new and existing relationships through in-person networking, one-on-one business appointments, peer-to-peer breakout sessions and engaging off-site activities.

“Punta de Mita was the perfect choice for our milestone 10th Connection,” said Global DMC Partners President and CEO Catherine Chaulet. “Our DMC partner Tropical Incentives and host hotel Conrad Punta de Mita truly rolled out the red carpet for our attendees. We were blown away by Mexico’s authentically warm hospitality as well as the abundance of cultural, philanthropic, wellness and adventure offerings that this vibrant destination has to offer.”

Business and Travel Trends Affecting the MICE Industry

Catherine Chaulet, Global DMC Partners
Catherine Chaulet, Global DMC Partners

Kicking off the program’s general session, Chaulet’s keynote address, “Decoding 2024 Global Business and Travel Trends,” provided a comprehensive analysis on the state of the industry with invaluable insights for business leaders and meeting planners navigating today’s ever-evolving economic landscape. These served as thought-provoking conversation starters for the learning hubs, breakout sessions and other discussions that took place throughout the conference. Highlights of these key takeaways included:

Economic Resilience and Inflation Trends:

  • Steady Growth: Despite global uncertainties and negative news stories from the media, growth actually remains steady with inflation returning to target rates.
  • Resilience Across Markets: Unexpected resilience in various global markets suggests a soft landing for the economy.
  • Inflation Challenges: Although inflation and energy prices are decreasing faster than anticipated, certain sectors, particularly meetings and events, continue to face higher inflation rates.

Impact on Meetings and Events:

  • Rising Costs: According to Global DMC Partners’ 2024 DMC Survey, DMCs report a significant 30 percent increase in pricing across airfares, accommodations, staffing, and other essentials, with 79 percent of event professionals noting higher expenses, according to Boldplus.
  • Budget Adjustments: Budgets are increasing primarily to offset rising costs rather than expanding services or experiences.
  • Top Challenges: Planners are grappling with higher costs, budget management, availability of venues and timely approvals from decision-makers. Meanwhile, DMCs are challenged by overall market pricing, working with clients’ budgets and meeting the deadlines of shorter lead times.

Creative Solutions and Trends:

  • Creativity is a huge challenge, particularly when coupled with tight budgets
  • Sustainability and Simplicity: A heightened commitment to sustainability and a renewed focus on smaller, simpler meetings
  • Innovative Partnerships: Stronger collaborations with vendors to expand talent and access to resources
  • Out-of-the-Box Thinking: Creative approaches in decor, food and beverage, audio-visual solutions, and leveraging AI for cost management and efficiency


  • Sustainability: Forty-five percent of attendees reported during a live poll that they struggle with incorporating sustainability into programs and forty percent indicated that they find sustainability overwhelming. A panel session dedicated to CSR and Sustainability in events gave attendees practical strategies and inspiration on how to incorporate sustainability and give back initiatives more systematically into their global programs.
  • Wellness Initiatives: A growing emphasis on wellness programs that include healthy food choices, advanced recovery technologies and work-life balance
  • DEI Commitment: Enhanced focus on diverse speaker panels, accessible venues and inclusive programming to foster collective belonging

Technology and AI:

  • Generative AI: The event sector is experiencing a significant boost in AI applications, projected to grow to $1.8 billion by 2024, according to Allied Market Research, enhancing everything from content creation to participant engagement and data analysis.
  • A live poll at Connection revealed that Chatbots are the most popular A.I. tool with 42 percent of attendees reporting usage

Destination Selection:

  • Geopolitical Factors: Elections, wars, and economic tensions significantly impact destination choices, with a preference for budget-friendly, accessible locations.


Making a Local Impact through CSR

In addition to the professional development sessions, Connection provided face-to-face time and networking opportunities through pre-scheduled business appointments as well as a wide variety of local activities, including the opportunity to give back to the community by painting a local school, Telesecundaria. Attendees collectively brought a wide array of school supplies and learning materials to the conference and the items were donated to three local organizations, Telesecundaria, non-profit Entre Amigos, and an elementary school with many needs.

Before departing on the closing day, the GDP corporate team recognized its top partners and clients in a brief awards ceremony. These recipients included:

  • U.S. Partner of the Year – Destination Fabulous Las Vegas

  • International Partner of the Year – CTI Italy

  • 2024 Stellar Performer – Fatih Donmez, Universal Travel Services Turkey

  • Global Planners of the Year – Jerry Longo of Abbott and Hanna Payne of Gartner UK

The team also then revealed the much-anticipated location for next year’s Connection in June 2025: Grand Hyatt Baha Mar, co-hosted by Sunbound, GDP’s DMC partner in The Bahamas.

Those who were unable to attend this year’s Connection but are interested in learning more about the trends and insights discussed are invited to attend the next GDP U webinar on Thursday, June 27, at noon EDT. Registration is complimentary at www.gdpuniversity.com. The webinar will also be available on demand for all registrants.

Connection is a by-invitation only experience for qualified meeting and event planners. To be considered for the 2025 event, planners are encouraged to contact their GDP sales advisor.