Meeting professionals expect in-person events and budgets to increase in 2023, according to the 12th annual Global Meetings & Events Forecast, produced by American Express Meetings & Events, a division of American Express Global Business Travel (Amex GBT).
The 2023 Global Meetings & Events Forecast is based on a survey of 580 meetings and events (M&E) professionals across the value chain in 23 countries, as well as interviews with industry leaders.
Key findings from the report include:
• 77% of respondents are optimistic about the health of the industry heading into 2023
(rating eight or above out of 10) – a six-point increase compared to last year’s survey.
• 67% said they believe the number of in-person events will return to pre-pandemic levels within one or two years, with internal and smaller meetings already exceeding 2019 levels in some regions.
• Budgets: 65% said that overall M&E spend is increasing for 2023.
Strong growth of in-person events
Internal meetings continue to be a higher priority than they were pre-pandemic, as organisations see face-to-face interactions as key to improving productivity, connecting teams, reducing turnover and attracting top talent.
Survey respondents anticipate that in-person meetings and the number of event attendees will increase across the board, with 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. After two years of remote and hybrid arrangements, respondents also expressed growing virtual fatigue.
For meeting professionals in the Asia Pacific region, over half (53%) of respondents say that macroeconomic changes are a top factor that influences an overall change in meeting spend at their organisation, more so than other regions.
Furthermore, they fall behind other regions in expecting in-person attendee numbers to return to pre-pandemic levels in the near future (61%). This is likely due to the region easing Covid-19 restrictions later than other regions.
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.
Commitment to sustainability
Sustainability also continues to be a priority for most M&E programmes in 2023. Four in five respondents (80%) say their organisation takes sustainability into account when planning events.
Of those who say their organisation takes sustainability into account, 76% say their organisation has a defined sustainable meetings program strategy. Impactful practices cited include minimizing paper usage (22%), energy-saving and waste-reduction measures (19%) and booking green suppliers (18%).
Respondents in the Asia-Pacific region were more likely to incorporate sustainability into their meeting and events planning (86%) and 83% say they have a defined sustainable meeting programme strategy for 2023.
Diversity, Equity & Inclusion efforts
Incorporating diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) into meetings and events was also a top priority for meeting professionals. Nearly nine in ten (87%) respondents say their organisation or client actively strive to incorporate DE&I in their M&E programmes. 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%).
“This Forecast reflects a renewed understanding of the value of meetings and events, and the critical role they play in building company culture and driving business,” said Gerardo Tejado, general manager, American Express Meetings & Events. “The report also finds an industry taking lessons learned during the last few years to bring positive change, including in areas such as technology, well-being, sustainability and inclusivity.”