A better economic climate... The upbeat climate is clear, and even if the survey is more weighted towards North America, the figure is still impressive: 72% of meeting professionals expect business conditions to improve in the near future. That is up from the 65% reported one year ago.
Increased attendance (and a crisis for virtual events?). Live and virtual attendance are predicted to grow. But it is telling that, while planners are more optimistic than last year for live events (those forecasting an increase in attendance are up from 53 to 62%), it is the opposite for virtual events (the optimists go down from 68 to 57%). Could it be that after a phase of very high optimism about virtual events, planners are getting more skeptical, or realizing the limits of virtual events? It is early to tell (57% is still high) but this downward evolution is interesting. To be continued...
A renewed focus on attendee engagement, based on their "wants," is emerging at a time when the industry is thriving. Meeting professionals are showing a renewed focus on attendee desires (The survey quotes for instance big-name speakers or top entertainment for instance) and going beyond traditional meeting needs such as education.
Still budget challenges. As the latest survey found, 33% of respondents expect their budget to remain flat for the next year, while 39% expect only a small increase (1 to 5%). The report calls this "being asked to do much more with a little more". Planners are re-experiencing a strong meetings market and facing challenges such as budgets that are disproportionate to costs. Companies are still tightly controlling costs, even if the economy´s improvement is clear (procurement is still here, you know...) and marketing objectives are increasingly ambitious but budgets don´t quite follow. So the years of being smart with limited budgets are not over yet!"
More work, not that many more jobs. Jobs are coming back, but (see previous point), companies are still hugely cautious with their cost structures. So organizations are increasingly bringing on personnel in a contract or part-time role to start. 30% of planners plan increased use of part time staff and 44% expect more people on a per contract basis.
Planners ready for the new generations? Finally the survey analyses how prepared planners are with the upcoming generations. Verdict: not too bad! Only 17% of respondents are doing nothing to plan for the communication styles of the numerous generations of attendees, while 40% comprehensively tailor planning for every event with this challenge in mind.