MEETING & EVENT TRENDS FOR 2023
By Beth Buehler
It’s been truly interesting to watch industry trends since the COVID pandemic changed things up in a big way in early 2020. Can you believe we are almost three years out from when everything pretty much shut down for several months? Destination Colorado Meetings looked at a variety of resources to examine meeting and event trends for 2023 as their surveys of planners, suppliers and other industry pros provide meaningful data.
Here is a glimpse at what you might expect for the new year ahead, with some meeting and event trends for 2023 impacting Colorado more than others.
Cvent’s 14 Meeting & Event Trends
Cvent is a meetings, events and hospitality technology provider has outlined 14 Meeting and Event Trends You Need to Know for 2023.
Trend 1 – Planners are not only planning more meetings, they anticipate a surge in future bookings.
Trend 2 – There’s a renewed focus on return on time/experience/investment for attendees, especially as costs increase.
Trend 3 – Social activism will play a big role in how meetings are planned.
Trend 4 – Hotels need to adapt to “a triple threat” (in-person, hybrid and virtual).
Trend 5 – Event planners will refocus on and prioritize health and wellness activities.
Trend 6 – Planners are choosing leisure destinations more frequently, perhaps even over metro centers.
Trend 7 – Virtual reality is no longer just for video games. It may soon make event planning easier and more efficient.
Trend 8 – Google’s shift away from third-party cookies will impact online advertising strategies.
Trend 9 – Smaller meetings may increasingly become a preferred option, especially for luxury events.
Trend 10 – Special events will increasingly become multiday celebrations.
Trend 11 – In-person meetings are a vital part of maintaining and rebuilding workplace culture.
Trend 12 – Reaching event planners with influencer marketing and placing additional emphasis on video content will become more common.
Trend 13 – An increased focus on diversity, equity and inclusion efforts in the meetings and events industry.
Trend 14 – New planners increasingly seek out special venues, outdoor events and unique settings.
Colorado is especially well-suited for trends 5, 6, 10, and 14 when working with planners seeking health and wellness activities, leisure destinations, multiday offerings, and unique/outdoor settings. Diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) also is at the forefront.
Global Meetings & Events Forecast by Amex Meetings & Events
Meeting professionals expect in-person events and budgets to increase in 2023, according to the 2023 Global Meetings & Events Forecast produced by American Express Meetings & Events, a division of American Express Global Business Travel (Amex GBT). The 12th annual forecast is based on a survey of 580 meeting and event (M&E) professionals in 23 countries, as well as interviews with industry leaders.
77% of respondents are optimistic about the health of the industry heading into 2023 (rating eight or above out of 10), representing a six-point increase compared to the 2022 survey.
67% believe the number of in-person events will return to pre-pandemic levels within one to two years, with internal and smaller meetings already exceeding 2019 levels in some regions.
65% indicated that overall M&E spend is increasing for 2023.
Internal meetings continue to be a higher priority than they were pre-pandemic, as organizations see face-to-face interactions as key to improving productivity, connecting teams, reducing turnover and attracting top talent. About 87% of meetings expected to have an in-person component. Moreover, only 32% of internal meetings are expected to be held on the corporate’s property, with 40% being held in a different city from the office and 45% including overnight accommodation for attendees.
Overall, a strong majority expect in-person M&E activity to be their main focus next year, with only 29% of respondents in North America and 33% in Europe expecting an increase in hybrid meetings.
Four in five respondents (80%) say their organization takes sustainability into account when planning events. Of these, 76% say their organization has a defined sustainable meetings program strategy.
Nearly nine in ten (87%) respondents say their organization or client actively strive to incorporate DE&I in their M&E programs. These respondents say the top two ways they do this are by using diverse and minority-owned suppliers (29%) and by providing an option to attend the event virtually (28%).
In North America, where respondents reported the highest percentage of completely remote workforces, internal and small and simple meetings have already surpassed 2019 levels. Meeting planners in this region are seeing the highest increase in group rates for 2023 in both group air (7.8%) and hotel (7.4%) compared to other regions. North America is also the only global region expecting a decrease in hotel room and meeting space availability.
Continued group hesitation to book very far in advance combined with economic pressures, ongoing staffing issues and unprecedented competition in the market for available space will continue to put pressure on hotel rates in 2023. Availability in 2023 is expected to be tight.
More than one-third (38%) of meeting planners said that group air rates were very or extremely influential on their destination choices. Among supplier respondents, 68% of air suppliers say their rates will be increasing in 2023.
Overall meeting spend is predicted to increase by 3.1% on average, which is the same as last year’s survey. If budgets were reduced, respondents said the two areas they would cut first are off-site optional activities (23%) and number of nights (20%). If budgets were increased by 10%, improving the on-site experience (32%) and increasing the use of technology (23%) are the top two areas planners would focus their extra spend on.
MPI Meetings Outlook
Meeting Professionals Internationals (MPI) has released is Fall 2022 Meetings Outlook report that indicates that many meeting professionals are reporting their business is back to pre-pandemic levels. However, rising costs and insufficient resources (both staff and budgets) are expected to be trends in 2023.
Price hikes have hit virtually every area of the industry, with 64% of planners and suppliers calling it a seller’s market. As a result, 78% are seeking new revenue opportunities for their meetings and events.
While 65% expect their budgets to increase in 2023, the growth likely won’t keep pace with rising costs.
Staffing is still an issue, with 62% of survey respondents indicating they are still having trouble filling staff vacancies.
A year ago, only 3% or respondents said their business levels had returned to pre-pandemic levels. Now, 32% indicate full recovery with 31% implying it will happen sometime in 2023 and the remaining 37% in 2024 or later.
Hopefully this gives you a glimpse at meeting and event trends for 2023 and the chance to seek out additional information from these resources. Destination Colorado Meetings and its 130 members keep close watch on what’s happening in the industry to adjust accordingly and make planners’ jobs as easy as possible.
Photo: 2022 Meetings Industry Council of Colorado Educational Conference & Trade Show at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver, courtesy All Digital Photo & Video
Colorado native Beth Buehler has been editor of Colorado Meetings + Events magazine for 18 years, helped launch Mountain Meetings magazine, and is on the team introducing Southwest Meetings + Events in the near future. She has planned numerous meetings and events and enjoys exploring Colorado.