As corporate and association event planners gear up for the first full year since 2019 without Covid-related meeting restrictions—but with a choppy economic outlook too—they harbor a mix of positive and negative expectations about how they’ll coordinate and execute their upcoming events. This is according to nearly 300 planners who responded to the 2023 State of the Meetings Industry survey from events-industry research firm Knowland in conjunction with third-party planning agency Conference Direct.
On one hand, 80 percent of responding planners say that it is almost certain that they will not cancel or postpone meetings already scheduled to happen in 2023. Further, 51 percent say that the length of the meetings they’re planning will almost certainly not be shorter than in the past. Another 22 percent say it is somewhat likely that some events will be shorter than before; 15 percent say it is moderately likely, and 12 percent said that some shorter meetings would be a near certainty in 2023.
On the other hand, 58 percent of respondents expect their costs for food and beverage to be at least 20 percent higher in 2023, while 55 percent expect the same with audiovisual costs and 30 percent say so about guest rooms.
Furthermore, “gone are the days of [automatically] free meeting space based on guest rooms or a food-and-beverage guarantee,” the report notes. The proof: 36 percent of respondents say it is moderately or very likely that they will be charged for meeting space, while another 30 percent say it is somewhat likely. Just 34 percent say it is almost certain that they would not have to pay for meeting space.
Another area of planner difficulty is the response time to their meeting inquiries. The report says that “hospitality is still struggling due to staff shortages, causing issues for planners who must now manage tasks that used to be the responsibility of hotel teams.”
Specifically, 31 percent of planners say they are not satisfied or slightly satisfied with the recent communication from hotels about their meeting details, while another 47 percent say they have been only moderately satisfied. Just 21 percent say they have been mostly satisfied with hotel responses to meeting inquiries.
Lastly, three meeting elements that the majority of respondents say are poised to remain prominent in 2023 are a more casual meeting atmosphere; use of technology to enhance the attendee experience; and a focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion.