The meetings and events sector is becoming increasingly competitive, but companies may be starting to hold back on corporate bookings.

The most recent Group Business Outlook report from Cvent released this week shows a decline in group booking on the company’s platform for the second half of 2020 and into the first half of 2021, as demand fails to meet growing supply. Cvent pulls its data from its supplier network, which hosts 260,000 venues globally. The platform’s latest projections are in line with other indications from around the industry that corporate bookings are starting to slow worldwide.

While group booking is set to increase in the short-term, it takes a sharp turn in the third quarter of 2020, decreasing 40 basis points. This negative trend continues for the following four quarters, before recovering in the third quarter of 2021.

“If you look at the report over the course of the full eight quarters, awarded business is overall fairly flat – some quarters are trending a bit up, some trending a bit down,” said Jeffrey Emenecker, senior director of analytics for Cvent. “The broader concern that arises from this is that while supply is growing, what’s being booked is fairly stable, which in turn means a drop in group occupancy — and an even more competitive group business marketplace.”

These data points are yet another sign that the industry may need to brace for a widespread slowdown. In an earnings call in July, Hilton admitted that group bookings were down in both the U.S. and Asia Pacific, and said it did not expect this trend to reverse any time soon. The company attributed the softness to trade tensions between the U.S. and China.

Meanwhile, a recent report from the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) suggested that corporate travel price growth would slow in 2020 due to weak demand, caused by political uncertainty in Europe, China, and the U.S.

Cvent’s most recent data reports that request for proposal activity growth is down too, from 9.7 percent in the first quarter of 2019 to 9.2 percent in the second quarter of 2019. This is a continuation on a trend from last quarter, when request for proposal activity growth slowed as well. At the time, the company attributed this to changes in the way commissions are awarded, and the impact may be ongoing.

The average size of group room block is also down, with 222.8 rooms in the second quarter versus 229.3 in the first quarter. Year-over-year, the average size of group room block decreased 0.6 percent, which is in line with what the event management company expected.

Additionally, event duration decreased to 3.3 days year-over-year and the average booking window decreased to 183.6 days year-over-year.

Check out the full report below.

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Photo Credit: Ballroom at a Signia Hilton. Hilton