The past year has given us countless trends and cultural shifts in the way we work, travel, and meet colleagues and clients. From the rise of buzzword terms like quiet quitting to rising costs and speculation over the permanence of virtual meetings and what jobs AI would render non-existent, 2022 felt exciting and ominous.
While inflation and continued labor challenges across the travel and events sector leaves some trepidation, there’s cause for optimism.
Here are a few trends that are likely to stay top of the agenda and evolve in 2023.
By midway through 2022, face-to-face meetings and events rebounded sharply — 65% more versus mid 2021 — whilst virtual event volumes scaled back by 70% in the same timeframe.
“The rebound illustrates the enduring value of in-person interaction to companies looking to rebuild culture and attract and retain staff,” Beau Ballin, CWT Meetings & Events’ Global Head Market Development told Skift Meetings, “To get the best value from long-awaited meetings and events and mitigate against rising costs, corporations will need to plan further in advance, budget carefully, and adopt a disciplined approach to managing meetings and events across the organization.”
Greener meetings and events
If there’s one trend we can look forward to continuing in the new year, it’s the appetite for weaving sustainability into event planning.
“We have seen sustainability questions in RFPs for years, however often the individual meeting owner does not seem as engaged and the budget can get in the way. Start small, and build upon your strategy.“ says Katherine Bell, CWT Meetings & Events’ Director Global Process and Implementation in 6 steps to achieve more sustainable meetings & events, “Decide what carbon emissions you want to measure and do that consistently across your program of events so you have a baseline you can then improve upon. Metrics for measurement vary greatly globally and the industry lacks standardization in this area. This is gradually getting easier with more accessible emissions calculators which is good, but then challenge what you are going to do with the output.” Bell recommends sharing ‘visual guilt’ with attendees rather than just a number of tons of CO2 as this will be more meaningful and generate positive action. Publicize what projects have been supported through offsetting measures.
Adapting to virtual attendance
“During the early days of the pandemic many technology decisions were rushed,” says Fredrik Hermelin, CWT Meetings & Events Snr Director Global Sales, “This led to companies buying pricey subscriptions to virtual platforms to organize virtual events that they tried to manage themselves. The experience was poor, expensive and issues with cameras, firewalls and sound created frustration. This negative experience hid the alternative to traditional meetings that this technology presented.”
Today 30-40% of clients include virtual technology in their programs, either as part of their business continuity plans, as a back-up for important events, or as a natural step in their evolution towards a more sustainable M&E program. Those allowing for professional support find the experience infinitely smoother and companies are increasingly savvy about engaging virtual attendees via polls and quizzes, tech support, gamification and event moderation designed for virtual attendance.
The world has yet to fully recover economically from the impact of the pandemic, and geopolitical upheaval. While there are unknowns ahead, we can look forward to another year of growth, of leaps and bounds in technology, and measuring and managing travel and events more sustainably for live and virtual attendees alike. Here’s to sowing the seeds of innovation, creativity and progress in 2023, together.