An especially turbulent 2 years have left people wondering what the outlook for the corporate meetings and events industry actually is. It's important to remember that each region will be facing different challenges and will have different uses for events and meetings, but the outlook is positive and full of exciting opportunities.
What is important in the next two years?
The 2021 IBTM trends watch report chooses to look at the future in three main segments; corporate, associations, and industry media; but I'm going to discuss corporate meetings and events. The report outlined that the key challenge corporate organisers are looking to tackle between now and 2024 is ensuring the sustainability of events.
What are the industry expectations up to 2024? As the IBTM research indicates 77% of survey respondents scored "Ensuring Sustainability" as their top priority. But it's important to look at this from more than an environmental standpoint, you need to ensure that your business model and practices are sustainable.
Covid required everyone to take stock of what they had and what they didn't need. Nobody was sure how long it would last so they needed to cut any dead weight. Throughout this audit it became pretty obvious to a lot of businesses how unsustainable their practices were. It wasn't uncommon for people to hop on a plane just to attend a meeting, and mind you it still isn't, but before the pandemic this was often the only way to effectively attend large meetings and events. But it's not just physically attending them that was the issue, the changing of technology has caused an expected shift by consumers.
How the last two years have influenced behaviour
Crisis can serve as a catalyst, and in the last 2 years savvy venues had an opportunity to reinvent and put themselves at the forefront of the industry. This included implementing entirely new processes and touchless technology, which are not only more hygienic, but also more efficient. This challenge isn't specific to corporate meetings and events, it's industry wide. Change was also accelerated by the widespread implementation of 5G which forced venues to fifth generation technology, meaning their infrastructure required a significant overhaul.
Corporate meeting spaces and events that aren't operating on 5G will struggle to meet the mark with expectations. High quality video streams require a great deal of network support to maintain quality. If venues don't have that infrastructure in place then they can't meet the expectation of their consumers. Put forward a high quality product and your attendees will have plenty of good things to say, solidifying your place as a reliable event and meeting space provider for the future.
This is a fundamental shift that meetings and events have to keep in mind. As technology changes, so to do the needs and expectations of attendees. It's especially crucial as hybrid events continue to grow in popularity, it'll be crucial for venues to have the technology capabilities and infrastructure in place to support them in order to deliver memorable experiences.
How you can make a shift
The Pulse Survey by NorthStar Meetings Group revealed that over 54% of meeting organisers intend to arrange live events that also contain an online element. An additional 22% are also planning to use a hybrid model for their meetings. In my opinion this is low, unless every attendee can easily attend meetings in person, a hybrid model should be implemented.
Hybrid events were nothing new before 2020, but the necessity of them was certainly accelerated in the last 2 years. This allowed venues and event organisers to grow new audiences and communities that they had never thought to interact with before. Furthermore these audiences are accustomed to attending your events now and will expect to do so in the future. Not having a hybrid aspect to your events is ignoring this audience and showing to them that they're not important to you.
There's no longer an excuse to run corporate events and meetings solely for those who can physically attend. Implement a hybrid model, do it well and you'll see how greater accessibility leads to greater success. Yes you may need to overhaul your infrastructure but the increased revenue brought in by hybrid events make it well worth it.
Now may seem like an uncertain time to be bullish, but fortune favours the bold. Make sure you plan changes accordingly, all steps should be mapped out and your research should be done, but don't be afraid to be bullish in your plans. Fear of covid may have been relevant this time last year, but it's time to stop letting it hold you back. Your stakeholders are expecting business as usual and if they can't get it from you then they'll get it from someone else. The next few months are critical for your future success so ensure you're poised for further change and become a leader in your industry
Lauren Hall Founder and CEO of iVvy Background
Lauren is a passionate entrepreneur with more than 25 years’ business management experience at Executive and Board level, successfully building multiple companies from startup to strategic and financial exit.