Meeting revenue levels are expected to recover to 2019 levels in 2022 or 2023, with Danish and Australian venues predicting the fastest recovery, according to IACC‘s annual Meeting Room of the Future Barometer 2022.
The recently-released report reveals that respondents from around the globe expect that 2023 would be the first year to surpass 2019 business events and meeting revenue levels. Predictions did differ slightly by country with projected revenues in Denmark to surpass 2019 levels as early as 2022 while the Americas had a slightly longer outlook with revenues not returning to pre-pandemic levels until 2024.
The study, which is financially supported by IACC’s partners Encore Global, Benchmark Hospitality, Flik Hospitality Group/Rapport and Aramark Conferencing, shows that in 2021, average business events and meeting revenue was 45 percent lower than in 2019, but in 2022 this percentage is expected to shrink to just eight percent below 2019 levels.
Sustainability continues to be an emerging topic, with some improvements made since the 2021 edition of the study. The 2022 report shows that, in general, there is more of a focus on environmental and social responsibility at venues in Europe and Australia when compared to North American venues. Forty-six percent of respondents to this year’s survey said they are receiving increased requests from clients to either state or provide social responsibility and environmental credentials.
The one sustainable practice that venues have improved considerably since 2020 is the ability to donate unused food to local community outreach programs. More than one-half of responding venues report this option compared with only 23 percent of venues in 2020 with North American venues reporting a greater likelihood of offering healthy food options and the ability to donate unused foods than other regions.
The study further supports the gradual return to meetings weighted towards more in-person interactions. In 2021, 30 percent of respondents reported that more than 90 percent of their live meetings and events also offered virtual access. In 2022 this percentage dropped to 19 percent. This is corroborated by IACC’s report, The Future of the Meeting Industry (February 2022), which showed that the value of human interaction is ranked the highest of seven factors when considering attending an in-person meeting, above expanding your network, scheduling and cost of attending. Collaboration with colleagues is also highly ranked.
Talent shortages across industries have been dominating headlines and while the meetings industry is not immune to the challenges of attracting and retaining workers, operators are showing optimism that they will be able to find employees to keep their venues running successfully. The study predicts that talent shortages will be alleviated over time, and overall, respondents do not anticipate that workforce shortages will negatively impact their ability to meet client and attendee needs. As 2022 unfolds, 55 percent of respondents reported that their venue has or will return to full-staffing levels by the end of 2022.
“The study clearly points to the fact that recovery is moving forward, and the future looks bright for our industry, with a renewed value placed on face-to-face events,” said Mark Cooper, CEO of IACC. “However, we still face a number of challenges. Recent social and geopolitical events have brought into sharp focus the need to focus on sustainability and the report shows that this is an area where there is significant scope for investment and improvement and which IACC venues must focus on going forward.
The Meeting Room of the Future survey was in the field for three weeks in March 2022. It was completed by 87 venue operators from three continents (Americas, Europe and Australia).