The meetings and events industry has been through a rollercoaster ride over the past few years, with the COVID-19 pandemic causing disruptions that were unprecedented. However, as we delve into the Summer 2023 Meetings Outlook, it becomes evident that the industry is bouncing back, albeit with its fair share of challenges. In this article, we will dissect the key findings from the report and explore the implications for various sectors within the industry.
Resurgence of Trade Shows
The first and perhaps most encouraging point in the report is the resurgence of trade shows. Julia Blinova highlights that not only have trade shows bounced back, but they have also surpassed pre-pandemic levels. This resurgence signifies a robust return to in-person gatherings, with attendees eager to reconnect, network, and explore new business opportunities. For the audio/visual rental services industry, this translates into a significant surge in demand.
Business Benefits for the Audio/Visual Rental Services Industry:
With the resurgence of events, organizers are keen on incorporating the latest AV technology to impress attendees. This surge in demand stems from an increased emphasis on high-quality visuals and sound to ensure events stand out.
Hybrid Event Popularity:
Hybrid events, which combine in-person and virtual participation, have emerged as a new norm. These require advanced AV setups to ensure seamless integration between the two modes of participation.
Not all event organizers are familiar with the technical aspects of hybrid events. This knowledge gap provides an avenue for AV companies to not just rent equipment but also offer consultation services.
Staffing Challenges and Business Recovery
While the resurgence is promising, the industry is grappling with staffing challenges. Many professionals repurposed and re-educated themselves during the pandemic, leading to difficulties in hiring. According to MPI’s 2023 Meetings Outlook, 53% of the industry is facing hiring challenges. This poses a significant hurdle for event planners, venues, and audio/visual rental services alike.
Data Analysis Hiring and Talent Acquisition:
The data indicates a slight improvement in hiring conditions from Fall ’22 to Summer ’23, but challenges persist. Employers are finding it increasingly easier to attract and recruit talent, possibly due to an influx of job seekers. This highlights the importance of businesses refining their hiring processes to capitalize on this positive momentum.
Focus on ROI and High-Tech Costs
With inflation and rising costs, companies are closely watching expenses, placing a stronger emphasis on the return on investment (ROI) for their events. This shift in mindset necessitates a careful consideration of event budgets and expenditures. Moreover, the cost of audiovisual equipment and services is soaring, forcing organizers to reconsider the nature of their events, whether they should go hybrid or virtual.
A significant proportion of event planners find it important to plan sustainable events, with many willing to spend more for sustainable options. Sustainability has transitioned from being a niche concern to a mainstream expectation. This shift is notable and has implications for both venues and AV rental services.
A staggering 90% of respondents believe sustainability is either “very important” or “somewhat important.” This underscores the increasing demand for sustainable practices within the event planning landscape.
Willingness to Spend on Sustainability:
While half of both planners and suppliers are ready to spend up to 5% more for sustainable event options, there’s a divergence in willingness to invest. Suppliers are more open to higher price increments, indicating that they see a direct value or return on investment from sustainable options.
Anticipation of Sustainable Practices Incorporation:
A majority of both planners and suppliers anticipate an increase in their incorporation of sustainable practices over the next 12-24 months. Sustainability is not just a passing trend; it’s becoming an industry standard.
Clients are booking closer to event dates, often leading to rush fees, and venue space is becoming scarce. This trend, while challenging, presents an opportunity for premium pricing due to the urgency. Hotel industry and convention centers can benefit from this, capitalizing on last-minute bookings to boost revenue.
In summary, the Summer 2023 Meetings Outlook reflects a resilient industry that is rebounding from the challenges posed by the pandemic. The resurgence of trade shows and the growing interest in hybrid events offer significant opportunities for the audio/visual rental services industry. However, staffing challenges, rising costs, and the need for sustainability present hurdles that require innovative solutions.
For the hotel industry and convention centers, the return of in-person events is a promising sign, with opportunities for increased bookings and revenue. By focusing on providing unique experiences, sustainability, and package deals in collaboration with AV providers, these venues can thrive in the evolving events ecosystem.
The data analysis reveals a shift in sentiment, with a gradual transition from overt optimism to more normalized expectations. While challenges persist, there’s a positive shift in hiring conditions, and sustainability is gaining prominence as a central concern.
In conclusion, the meetings and events industry is on the path to recovery, and businesses within it should remain agile, adapting to evolving needs and expectations to continue growing in this dynamic landscape.