By Ian Cummings, Global Head at CWT Meetings & Events
Despite the surge in demand we have seen in meeting briefs from March 2022 onwards, conventional wisdom among many corporate events professionals is that a full return to normality for the US$1.5 trillion won’t really happen until well into next year.
And when it does, as COVID-19 becomes a memory, virtual meetings most likely won’t disappear, so event organisers will need to make ongoing adjustments to match customer strategies as they determine their needs. Are they for face-to-face, wholly virtual, or perhaps only domestic groupings with a virtual element (commonly termed hybrid)? How too will more planning care be taken around gender, race, and ability? Is sustainability a driving factor? How will they manage rising venue costs yet maximise the return on their investment (ROI)?
Mix into that the growing excitement around the potential for the Metaverse, and any experience can be hugely augmented by technology to remove the seclusion from remote attendance. This can help increase engagement and company culture alike, in a way never achievable in meetings over platforms with which we now feel comfortable.
So, change is in the air, the industry isn’t going to be the same as it was, and meetings and events players need to prepare for that now, rather than be caught off-guard. They need to source new skills, position resources to best manage likely demand curves, strengthen partnerships with on the ground partners, and better manage fixed cost changes in high volume markets (which can destroy margins).
Adaptability is the new future plan for events companies. Smarter use of resources, resizing for anticipated demands, and reconfiguring services – maybe even around hubbed solutions to maximise efficiencies around use of technology, creativity, service delivery as well as resourcing efficiency.
In the new world, meetings and events firms will be taking in many of these aspects focused around contracted, forecasted, ongoing business volumes and not simply waiting with resources to see if business will come.
The future may well look very different for the players, but the customers will continue to benefit.