Taking the industry’s pulse as the curtain falls on 2022

Taking the industry’s pulse as the curtain falls on 2022

Mike Fletcher assesses how planners are feeling as the year draws to a close and offers some predictions on industry trends for the year ahead.

The year 2022 looks set to end on an optimistic high according to up-to-date data from Northstar Meetings Group’s Meetings Industry Pulse Survey.

Planner response data collated up to 7 December shows that 2023 promises more meetings, with 41% of organisers closing the year by booking new events.

Budgets are expected to at least match cost increases, if not outpace them while 59% stated that their outlook for meetings and events remains optimistic compared with the last survey cycle six weeks ago.

When asked ‘When’s your next live event’, nearly one-third reported that they will produce an event before year-end and 43% said they were working on events planned for the first quarter of next year.

Two-thirds (67%) of respondents expect to produce more meetings in 2023 – that’s 14% more planners who are currently anticipating greater meeting volumes than six weeks ago.

Although budgets appear to be flexing – with 41% citing spend that factors in and matches current actual prices – higher costs remain the top concern amongst planners, as they have done all through the year.

To mitigate the impact of higher costs, 60% of planners said they were finding savings in areas that they felt wouldn’t diminish the attendee experience. While only 21% admitted they were eliminating events that weren’t paying their way or were less important.

One planner respondent says: “We are mindful of the current state of pricing for events across the industry and are adjusting our costs accordingly but we’re updating our programme to ensure that we are not exceeding our 2022 budget by an enormous amount. It requires me to be creative with our F&B and off-site events, while maintaining the integrity of the event.”

How does this compare to earlier in the year?

Interestingly, in June’s six-week Pulse research cycle earlier this year, 22% of planners said they were planning more hybrid participation in their live events programmes in order to offset the in-person expense. This chimes with December’s six-week survey finding that less than one-third of all planners expect more attendees at their events in 2023 compared with 2022.

With attendance levels at in-person events continuing to lag due to disparate workforces and corporate restrictions on unnecessary travel, 2023 will give rise to the trend of smaller, more regional events and connecting remote audiences via technology.

One hybrid format we’ll see more of in the year ahead, therefore, is the Hub & Spoke model, allowing for multiple in-person audiences located in different venues to connect to a centralised studio online for content and speaker presentations.

Speaking to planners at this year’s IBTM World in Barcelona, other key industry trends to keep an eye on over the next 12 months include a more holistic approach to designing wellness into all types of events; enhanced consistency and collaboration for measuring and reporting the carbon impact of event activity; the impact of an economic slowdown and what constitutes value in event planning; plus the enhanced role meetings and events will play in building company culture and developing diversity and inclusion.

To discover further insight and predictions on the future direction of the events industry, download the IBTM World Trends Report 2023, sponsored by Megaron Athens International Conference Centre.

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Mike has been writing about the meetings and events industry for over 20 years as a former editor at Haymarket Media Group, and then as a freelance writer and editor. He currently runs his own content agency, Slippy Media, catering for a wide-range of client requirements, including social strategy, long-form, event photography, event videography, reports, blogs and ghost-written material.

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