In-person meetings and events are back! But with new staffing models including many employees working from home indefinitely, how will this affect the event landscape and more importantly your event attendance this year? Get the scoop on what’s in store for meetings and events trends to watch for in 2023:
Takeoff of In-Person Events
The last two years have taught us that in-person meetings and events are vital to maintaining and rebuilding the workplace and member organization culture. Last year internal, small, and simple meeting attendance surpassed 2019 levels and are expected to rise again this year. The October 2022 Planning Sourcing Report revealed that 83% of event planners expect to host more in-person events in 2023 compared to 2019 which has resulted in a surge in future bookings.
While in-person events are on the rise, the combination of in-person, hybrid and virtual events is something that venues still must be prepared to support. This means having access to the latest technology and being able to help planners create high quality video content.
Waste No Time … Plan Ahead
Shorter lead times have resulted in a surge in bookings that in turn has resulted on an industry shortage on Inventory. As costs increase, continued group hesitation to book very far in advance combined with economic pressures, ongoing staffing issues and unprecedented competition in the market for available space will continue to put pressure on hotel rates in 2023. While most planners expect their budgets to increase in 2023, the growth likely won’t keep pace with rising costs. Thus, planning the meeting or event sooner (than later) will help with your event budgets bottom line.
Engaging Work from Home Attendees
Remote work gave people the possibility to “work from roam,” where they could virtually work from anywhere in the world. In turn, time has become the most valued asset. With the rise of attendees officing remotely, event planners must work harder to compel attendees to “get out” for an event. Meeting hesitancy has driven up requirements to make meetings more memorable than ever before. Gone are the days when you could lure attendees in with a free happy hour at a hotel bar for an hour. The average attendee now has bigger needs and expectations. Event professionals will need to invest in creating meaningful experiences that get an attendee to leave their home — which in many cases can mean a one- to two-hour commute.
Noteworthy, Experiential & Personalized Meetings
Post-pandemic, there’s now a heightened focus on the return on time, experience, and investment for event attendees. With this event planners need to creatively find ways to wow attendees. Designing events that not only “wow” the attendee but strategically secure ongoing attendee engagement post-event should be a key deliverable for all future experiences.
Attendees now expect events to deliver unique experiences they cannot get anywhere else. Experiential meetings can assist with this as they allow time for attendees to get out and explore. For event venues & DMOs, highlighting local wellness attractions and amenities can attract more planners and planners can attract more attendees by featuring a destination or venues memorable attractions and activities.
Personalize your meeting or event experience from the time attendees arrive. From pre-meeting email or social media communications to personalized welcome banners when attendees step off an airplane or arrive at the host venue, make sure you welcome them and let them know how happy you are they chose to attend your event and are there.
The Leisure Lure
Destination hotels and resorts have increased in popularity with the increase of 'bleisure' trips. Venues and DMOs should emphasize the staycation value of their property and destination and showcase experiences attendees could check off their bucket list before and after the event is over.
Year of Functional Health and Wellness
Planners will prioritize functional health and wellness from event catering that is healthy yet fantastic to scheduled wellness activities that promote wellness for attendees. Not only will you see the rise in event catering and breakouts but also an increased focus on mental health as a top speaker conversation.
Travel Influencers & Social Media Marketing
Planners will continue to rely on travel influencers and social media marketing to reach and engage attendees. Additional emphasis will be placed on video content as well to promote events before and after to event attendees.
Heightened Demand for Unconventional Spaces
New planners increasingly seek out unique unconventional spaces and venues that will leave a lasting impression long after the event is over. Gone are the days of free meeting space based on guest rooms or a food-and-beverage guarantee, as is the mindset of booking a venue that does.
Roles & Responsibilities Impacted by Staffing
Hospitality is still struggling due to staff shortages, causing issues for planners who must now not only manage tasks that used to be the responsibility of hotel teams but manage expectations for event attendees.
Elaborate Swag and Décor No More
With no end in sight of rising event costs due to inflation, meeting and event planners will re-prioritize décor and event swag only to include high-quality, reusable and necessary items to carry out the event messaging.
Exceptional High-End Photography and Videography, AV & Wi-Fi
The demand for high-end photography and videography will continue. Meeting and event planners will continue to prioritize each for effective marketing content after the event is over. Similarly, whether the event is in-person or hybrid, reliable AV & Wifi technology will remain of upmost importance when planning an event. While it may not be the line item your attendees remember after an event is over (when it has worked properly), they will certainly remember when it failed.