Meetings & Events Predictions for the New Year
It’s that time of year: celebrating holidays, gathering with family, using up the last of your PTO. But amidst all the fun and festivity, it’s also time to reflect on the past year and prepare for the new year ahead. Let’s dive in!
2021 Sets the Standard
Even as the demand for events begins to approach pre-pandemic levels, industry standards and best practices are still firmly rooted in the pandemic era. Michael Garcia, Vice President, Global Enterprise Solutions first shared his top trends for 2021 at the M&IW Summit. Now, he breaks down the four areas that will be more important than ever going into 2022.
#1: The Great Resignation
It should come as no surprise that the meetings and events industry has been impacted by the Great Resignation just like any other industry. This trend impacts the entire event ecosystem, including hotels, DMCs, and MMCs. As event demand increases and the supply chain squeeze drags on, this isn’t an issue that will go away when the calendar flips to 2022.
TOP TIP: For clients, the best way to stay ahead of the game is to forecast your events as far ahead as possible. On the event level, allow adequate lead times so your planners and vendors can properly allocate their resources.
At M&IW, we’ve been working to manage this trend with a renewed focus on our retention and recruitment strategies to provide career advancement and growth opportunities for our top performers. When recruiting new talent, we are targeting the best and brightest that are also a fit with our culture. A robust evaluation process is critical to ensuring we add the right individuals to our team.
#2: Tech Stacking
Technology saved the day (or should we say the event?) during the pandemic. Instead of all events being canceled, many were able to shift to a virtual format. The technological advances in event tech over the past two years have been astounding. As amazing as today’s platforms are, however, one size does not fit all when it comes to event technology.
Technology is constantly changing, and any one or two platforms won’t be able to meet every need, which is why it’s important to be able to work with multiple platforms.
TOP TIP: Customization is key. When you stack your tech, you can access every capability at every budget. Some platforms can even be combined, using multiple types of technology within the same event.
M&IW is technology agnostic for just this reason—by not limiting ourselves to a single platform, we are able to adapt to the unique business and budget needs of every event.
#3: Transitioning Between Event Types
Even with the return of in-person events, virtual and hybrid events will continue to be important in 2022. In fact, events will likely transition between the three types more than ever before, and that isn’t a bad thing! It’s important to consider the physical and mental health of your attendees. Whatever their reason for not attending in person, they deserve an option to attend from home and engage digitally. Yes, screen fatigue is real, but there are still a number of ways to attract a digital audience and keep them engaged during a virtual event. There are even ways for in-person and remote audiences to interact during hybrid events.
TOP TIP: As you begin the planning process, a key step is to be proactive and set parameters and timelines for when and why an event type may change.
These can be related to the pandemic, but they don’t have to be; for example, you may set a deadline to reach a certain number of in-person attendees before committing to going virtual. Whatever guidelines you choose, it is important to communicate them with your planners and vendors so they’re prepared. This leads to the fourth and final thought.
#4: Uneven Recovery
While the pandemic is unpredictable and we have learned to live with it, we must always be prepared for new variants to emerge or seasonal outbreaks to occur. There’s no clear, straight path to recovery, so flexibility and agility are key for both clients and vendors.
TOP TIP: While it’s less likely an event will be canceled altogether, all parties must be prepared to pivot to virtual—it’s a question of “when” rather than “if,” and your team should be prepared to respond with “how.”
Luckily, M&IW has been doing this since the pandemic began. We know what it takes, and thanks to our focus on retaining our team, we have the bandwidth to make it happen. Your vendors should be constantly evaluated to ensure they have the skill and ability to adapt as needed. And remember, it’s not just the event itself that changes when the format changes, but rather the entire planning process, from time to technology to budget.
2022 and Beyond
These predictions don’t stand alone, nor should they. Each one impacts and influences the other, shaping today’s meetings and events industry. If one thing is clear, it’s that strong partnerships are key. Trust your planners and vendors, help them do what they do best, and 2022—and beyond—will see success for everyone. Interested in working with M&IW in the new year? Contact us!
Michael Garcia, CMP
Vice President, Global Enterprise Solutions
Meetings & Incentives Worldwide, Inc.