BCD Meetings & Events has published its fifth annual Global Trends Report, taking a hard look at the current meetings environment and diving into three trends expected for 2022.
The report is notable for its regional approach, with updates on meeting-industry challenges and progress from executives in North America, Latin America, Europe, the United Kingdom, Middle East, Africa, and Asia/Pacific.
Not surprisingly, senior vice presidents Christine Erickson and Charlene Rabideau, commenting on the North American region, report a slower return to face-to-face in 2021 than expected. However, their “cautious optimism” is bolstered by an increased preference for face-to-face formats. More than 65 percent of face-to-face events for BCD M&E’s North American clients remain on schedule, and they’re seeing a decline in hybrid event interest.
Also of note from the North American event team:
• As many larger meetings move to 2022, Erickson and Rabideau expect the squeeze on hotel space availability to increasingly surface as a pain point for planners.
• They’re seeing indications that incentive travel programs will return in 2022, with a strong interest in domestic destinations.
• Clients are refreshing their crisis-management protocols, eager to institute best practices in duty of care and risk mitigation.
Trends for ’22
The report examines three planning-department priorities that have come to the fore as a result of the ground-shifting pandemic: creating attendee engagement, building the business case for meeting and event programs, and strengthening supplier relationships.
1. Attendee engagement has been a challenge throughout the pandemic, particularly in relation to virtual-event attendees. But in 2022, the focus will be on improving engagement through data analysis: mining the virtual meetings held over the past year and a half to understand attendee behaviors. The report also stresses a back-to-basics approach to engagement, where planners design events with the answers to essential questions front and center: What’s the purpose of the event? Who’s in the audience? What does success look like?
2. With more scrutiny on which events will be face-to-face and which will be virtual, planners need to rewrite the business case for their meeting and event programs. This process will not only take cost, risk management, and the purpose of the events into consideration, but sustainability as well
3. The pandemic, the report says, “fundamentally changed the way planning teams view meeting and event suppliers.” The supply chain has been compressed by smaller vendors shutting down during the downturn and from companies streamlining the number of suppliers they work with. It’s also seen the need for preferred technology suppliers increase at the same time the number of vendor options has exploded. Creating and strengthening supplier relationships will be an important goal for planning teams in the year ahead.
BCD’s 25-page report also looks at these three trends regionally, examines issues for the year ahead in the life-sciences meeting market, and offers half a dozen life hacks to promote work-life balance.