Skip navigation

6 Top Trends Shaping the Meetings Scene in 2023

Executives from GBTA’s Meetings & Events Europe Committee weigh in on top meeting trends that, sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse, just won’t quit.

At the mid-point of 2023, six trends remain prominent in the meetings and events space, impacting planners and their stakeholders: inflation; the decentralized workforce; attendee well-being; issues around diversity, equity, and inclusion; technology; and sustainability.

In a late July episode of The Business of Travel, the podcast of the Global Business Travel Association, meeting executives from Shell and Amgen spoke with Dan Humby, co-chair of GBTA’s Meetings & Events Europe Committee and vice president of sales, Europe for Groups360, about these trends and how they’re affecting their meetings and events.

Below are excerpts from the conversation. The full 30-minute podcast is available here.

“Inflation is a very big topic across all businesses. And yeah, obviously, we're seeing an increase [in meeting costs], which affects our budgets not only for this year, but we've already started budgeting for next year,” said Jason Hart, strategic sourcing manager at Amgen. He noted that with meetings, “you don't just want the lowest price, which is the traditional procurement thing. It's about working with our partners and our agencies trying to make it work for both parties.”

Jennifer Pape, global meetings & events manager with Shell, is also seeing big price increases for the sector. For her, one of the most effective cost-management tools is a strong technology platform. “We do push all meetings to be registered. So that gives us [good] oversight of all costs. Of course, there is always going to be some leakage. And we try to work that out through our expense codes, through our payment cards, and tracking.”

Decentralized Workforce
With a significant number of employees now working out of home offices in the wake of Covid, Humby commented that more stakeholders are aware of the indirect value of meetings and events. “We saw an initial surge in [meeting] demand through the recovery period, but there was a lot of speculation that it would plateau after that,” he said. “But I think the reality is that organizations are recognizing the value of bringing people together particularly to drive culture. Historically, our segment did not have a great name for itself because we've struggled to articulate the value that meetings bring, but I think particularly in a cost-focused environment like we're in, organizations are not only doing a better job articulating that value, but really recognizing the inherent value that meetings deliver.”

Attendee Wellbeing
Through Covid and the return to work, work-life balance was at the fore for Shell and it has “continued as a legacy” of that period, Pape said. “Now when people are meeting, whether in the office or out of the office, they want the [same well-being] benefits. It's really focused a lot of things that we do.” Whether that means building more free time into the agenda for walks or for catching up on email, or bringing in a yoga instructor for a fitness hour, meetings are adapting to new attendee expectations, she said.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Commenting on inclusion, Pape noted that accessibility questions became part of the meeting request form at Shell about two years ago. “And this is really just intended as a prompt,” she said. “Most people don't know everybody who will be coming to their meeting from the beginning, but it is a prompt to think about what type of meeting space will suit all people, and also to have that conversation with your meeting participants. What is going to make somebody feel included in that meeting?” The obvious requirements, she said, are around mobility, but for some there may hearing issues, neurodivergent requirements, or other factors that could limit participation. “So, it's about having conversations about how you can make that meeting the most accessible,” Pape said.

“We're using a booking tool, a meeting request form, and other tools,” said Hart. “The data that comes out of that is really important in terms of what we're spending and who we're spending it with.” The tools, he noted, are making an important difference for smaller meetings or offices in smaller countries that don’t have agency support. “That's where we see technology really helping us. There may have been some leakage previously because they would have just [planned meetings] on their own, but now we can potentially look at it and manage it.”

The podcast participants emphasized that, at a minimum, it’s critical to get started with sustainability. “If we were to wait to implement sustainability into our meetings program until we have the solutions for everything, I think we would never get started,” Pape said. “It's all about working with our vendors to understand their sustainability credentials, adding those into the RFP, and encouraging our meeting requests to look at sustainable options.”

Humby agreed: “We all know we need to be further along the path than we are, but we have to start somewhere. So, be pragmatic. Ensure that there is some kind of acknowledgement [of sustainability] within your program, your policy, your event, and then you can build and iterate on top of that. But be realistic; you cannot expect to do everything out of the gate.”

Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.