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Key Takeaways from BCD M&E’s 2023 Meetings Forecast

The big meetings agency addresses event costs versus creativity, strategic meetings management, and sustainability, showcasing trends with some advice to boot.

Amid the wave of industry forecasts from big meetings-industry players is the latest from BCD Meetings & Events, a member of MeetingsNet’s CMI 25 list for 2022.

The first big issue the firm’s “What’s Trending for 2023” report takes on is balancing soaring costs with event creativity. Forecasting spending for meetings in 2023 is not very useful when using 2019 as a baseline, the report notes. “For instance, a [one-day] event that cost $20,000 in 2019 could now run $27,000.” Further, “revenue teams are being much more strategic and selective about which groups they bring in. It used to be that a venue would hold space for a planner and allow them first right of refusal if a competing piece of business came in. But that option is now off the table due to the number of opportunities properties are getting.”

One new factor for many planners to consider: the large number of life-sciences meetings seeking out properties in smaller cities to avoid the high costs in the big-city destinations they used in the past. And even for life-sciences groups, “pushing [internal stakeholders] for longer lead times to improve negotiating strength” is BCD M&E’s top bit of advice for cost control.

The second trend the report addresses is that strategic meetings management is changing. Before Covid, “business travel was always the frontrunner” for organizational costs and visibility; “now, meetings and events are leading the rebound.” However, “many organizations disbanded or greatly reduced their meeting teams. They are turning more frequently to agencies to provide meeting services they can’t handle currently.” The overall result: “A great disconnect in understanding the impact of meetings and events” in many organizations from both the cost and value perspectives.

The report’s advice for planners: Get an understanding of the present meetings inventory across the entire organization and then “create new guidelines around the meetings function, both to contain costs and to drive visibility of the value they create."

RELATED: 3 Important Points from AmEx M&E’s Global Meetings Forecast

The third meetings trend in BCD M&E’s report relates to making a stronger impact on in-person attendees through pre-event research and on-site technology. While hybrid events have gained a strong foothold, especially with the virtual component conducted at a different time than the in-person version, “2023 events will need to continue to get more high-touch and personalized for attendees, and this will be enabled through better tracking and data collection,” says the report. “It’s possible to get in-the-moment feedback on site through features including live polling and RFID beacons in order to accurately measure attendee engagement. When their interests are more easily identified, it’s possible to tailor content directly to attendees” even while the in-person event is taking place, which makes it more appealing than the virtual option.

One other perspective provided in the report focused on sustainability efforts for meetings. “For 2023, sustainability is on the rise again, but in the current climate that’s focused on cost containment, it is not a driving factor in decision-making—yet.” Some advice: “Examine the overall carbon footprint of events,” including the operations of the entire supply chain, “rather than focusing on carbon offsetting.”

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