Yes, we’ve come full circle. Another page turning as the new year begins. I don’t know about you, but we are incredibly hopeful and excited about what 2023 holds. We felt it was only appropriate to set our intentions on the corporate meeting sector by sharing 2023 predictions since this year is expected to be full of business-as-usual activity following a few very disruptive years.
While the leisure travel industry started to recover significantly in 2021 and was fully operational by 2022, the group and business travel industries have taken longer to recover. However, according to industry experts, business meetings will reach 2019 levels again in 2023 and 2024. But with some significant modifications to previous meetings.
Here are a few things that corporate meeting organizers can anticipate in the upcoming year.
1. Some Industries Continue to Face Uncertainty
Even though booking trends are favorable and forecasting models are optimistic, there is some lingering doubt about the future of business travel. Specific industries, like technology, are undergoing layoffs, and a looming recession may make businesses wary of investing in corporate meetings and business travel. Not to mention, with so many employees working virtually, there is still discussion about the best ways to meet in person. However, despite increasingly realizing the value of bringing together virtual teams, businesses still struggle with the best approach.
2. Attendance: Active vs. Passive
The days of packing a room with people waiting to hear from an agenda’s worth of presenters are long gone. Meeting attendees want to participate actively rather than merely watch an event. At events, they want to actively participate and “do things.” Therefore, cutting-edge meeting planners are keeping topics more open and letting their audiences shape the content that is presented, as opposed to speakers coming in with carefully curated presentations and the audience sitting back to listen. After all, they are the audience, so we might as well let them have a say in what is discussed.
3. Connecting Events
Setting aside time specifically for face-to-face meetings has never been more crucial given the recent spike in remote work. The importance of in-person gatherings has increased because more team members are working from home, which has eliminated spontaneous conversations around the water cooler.
Additionally, balancing scheduled time for important conversations that will advance the company’s goals with enough downtime to foster staff relationships presents a special challenge for meeting planners. This means that in order to give teams a chance to connect and bond as well as plan activities that will bring people together, planners may need to add an additional day. Consider long coffee breaks with lounge setups, team-building activities in the afternoons, and dinners without a sit-down meal but with people moving around.
4. Time Built Into Networking
According to data, the chance to network is the main incentive for people to attend live events. While organizers would like to believe that networking happens naturally, this is not always the case. It takes a special kind of skill to network effectively, and not everyone has it. Too many event coordinators refer to a cocktail reception in the evening as a networking opportunity, but what about the non-drinking guests?
In order for genuine connections to be made, event organizers must provide networking opportunities that are specifically created to connect various types of attendees. Think about an interactive event like a speed networking session where participants share crucial details about themselves and their jobs.
5. Remember The Menus
Nearly as crucial as the event itself is the food you serve at a gathering. The idea of having a plated lunch is no longer appealing to the attendees. It’s difficult to make 200 plates of chicken appetizing, so the food is frequently bad and uniform. Serving only two options is unrealistic if you want to appeal to a larger group, not to mention dietary restrictions. Attendees desire to move around, be active (see #2), and make choices regarding their food. Food trucks are the best option for event planners looking for a tasty, affordable way to cater to the diverse tastes of their guests.
We must adjust to the things that have changed over the past few years as corporate meetings and business travel continue their recovery. It can be challenging for meeting organizers to design events that foster interpersonal interaction and provide useful content. Attendees’ expectations are higher than ever, but with these suggestions, planners can produce memorable, multifaceted events.