Futurologist Graeme Codrington said the industry should be prepared for a fundamental shift in the way it does business in the next few years.
"The downturn is a tipping point for all industries and in events, lead times are just one indicator," he said. "Corporate clients will be more discerning about their meetings in future. What they will want from events suppliers is something that will help their business, and if you can provide that, then you will be ahead."
Codrington, who is director of change consultancy Tomorrow Today, said the industry had to be alert to the impact of five trends that were affecting all businesses - technology, institutional change, demography, environment and shifting social values.
Codrington also advised planners to prepare for emphasis on the green credentials of meetings, and a possible recruitment crisis brought about by an ageing population.
"The events industry won't be able to find the young people it has traditionally used and abused," he said. "They will need to source staff elsewhere and be prepared for growing generational conflict within organisations."