CHANGES IN CORPORATE EVENTS
These are truly post-pandemic times for corporate meetings and events; virtual fatigue is increasing the demand for in-person meetings, attendee wellness is at the front of planners’ minds, and large global events are being swapped for smaller and simpler meetings. While there are changes and challenges galore, planners are still hopeful. The AMEX Forecast reported that the mood of most meeting professionals is “positive and also overwhelmed,” with data showing that “77% of respondents are likely to be optimistic (rating eight or above out of 10) about the health of the industry headed into 2023, a 6% increase compared to last year.”
Much of this overwhelm comes from the increased demand for in-person meetings. The AMEX report shows that almost half of organizations are working hybrid or fully remote, and all respondents acknowledge the need for increased in-person meetings. This number will only increase: in a presentation at IMEX this year, Senior VP of American Express Meetings & Events Gerado Tejado noted that “over 90% of companies are already looking to work in a hybrid environment,” meaning the need for human interaction through in-person meetings will keep increasing.
Another meetings trend in a post-pandemic world? Simplifying. In the same presentation at IMEX, Linda McNairy, Vice President of American Express Meetings & Events, pointed out that one of the fastest growing meeting types is small-scale meetings. “There is overwhelming data to support what I think all of us in this industry are seeing and feeling, is an increase in small and simple meetings...overall, the small and simple meeting category has increased by over 25% globally.”
Linda Logg, Corporate Sales Manager for Event Planning and Management at Historic Hotel Bethlehem, told Special Events, “The Historic Hotel Bethlehem Executive Conference Center has helped clients who previously booked one large meeting a year now book several smaller meetings. About 30% of all meeting bookings at the Historic Hotel Bethlehem Executive Conference Center this year have been from businesses specifically looking for smaller-than-usual events.”
Part of the increase in the return to in-person events is heightened commitment to attendee wellness. People are exhausted by virtual events. McNairy said that “face to face team meetings are the key to unlocking collaboration and employee wellbeing." Safety is a major concern these days, and smaller meetings and events allow for better control over safety protocol.
Boutique experiences are also on the rise, according to Logg. “After long, boring lockdowns and working from home, meeting attendees are itching to try new experiences. The same old big city conferences with the same old chain restaurants just aren’t as appealing as they used to be.” New experiences and in-person meetings are of high value. The AMEX report reveals a unique contrast: planners are less concerned with attendee engagement at in-person events because everyone is simply happy to be together; whereas attendance and engagement is a growing issue for virtual meetings.
Stay tuned for the rest of our State of the Industry 2022!
To view part 6, click here.