A survey in late April of more than 1,600 meeting professionals by event-production firm Encore found good news about the state of event budgets for the remainder of 2023: 34 percent will increase, 43 percent will stay flat, 14 percent are not settled yet, and just nine percent will be trimmed.
For budgets that are decreasing, the most common reasons given were that “market conditions have impacted the bottom line,” “we are shifting priorities and strategies for this year,” and “we have concerns about a coming recession.”
A recent article from CNN notes that the chances of a U.S. recession in 2023 are fading, but 2024 could be a different story. If the economy flattens out and jobs are lost across a wide swath of industries in 2024, meeting budgets stand a much higher chance of being cut.
In such a scenario, 42 percent of responding planners said that the first line item that would face cuts is attendee gifts and merchandise. Other areas that would see less money or no money would be leisure activities (38 percent said so), props and décor (38 percent), and entertainment (32 percent).
On the flip side, the items in a meeting budget most immune to cuts include speakers (just 10 percent said a cut would be likely), transportation (13 percent), headcount (15 percent), and production and audiovisual (16.5 percent).
Who’s Actively Advancing Their Job Skills?
Given that so many people in the meetings and events field are relatively new to it after the industry’s great disruption from the Covid pandemic, planners’ responses about how often they attend job-related educational sessions are surprising.
Among respondents who have more than three years of experience in meeting and event planning, 25 percent said they attend learning sessions in person or online frequently; 32 percent said they do so sometimes; and 43 percent said they do so rarely or never.
On the other hand, respondents with less than three years of planning experience are significantly less likely to attend job-related learning sessions. While 25 percent said they do so frequently, only another 18 percent said they do so occasionally—and 56 percent say they do so rarely or never.
Meeting-department managers might want to revisit their skills-development plans for less-experienced team members.