As 2022 draws to a close, the meetings industry turns a collective eye to 2023 with cautious optimism. While the number of 2023 North American meetings planning an in-person component is 90%, (up 2% over 2022), there’s no denying that significant challenges still face meeting professionals. Here are 3 factors to keep in mind as you plan 2023 events.
Anticipate Rising Costs
Unsurprisingly, concerns over high costs dominate 2023 trend research. From staffing to transportation to F&B, nearly every sector is feeling the squeeze. Flexibility and creativity are a planner’s best tools to offer a meaningful experience that won’t blow the budget. As uncomfortable as it may be, have honest conversations with your venues and suppliers about your event goals and available resources to leverage their network and experience. They may have solutions that you wouldn’t think to ask for! Industry forums can be another great way to get an outside perspective on your situation and build on each other’s ideas.
Design For Impact
Buzz around green meetings is nothing new, however, organizations and attendees are expressing a renewed interest and concern for their post-pandemic meeting footprint. Trend forecasts predict that overall sustainability will continue to shape event elements and drive attendee purchases. Although the words sustainability and green meetings are often used interchangeably, World Atlas defines sustainability as a “three-legged stool since it is concerned with three pillars, including environmental health, economic benefits, and social equity. It means undertaking changes in social, economic, and environmental processes to achieve a balanced relationship between nature and humans.” The bottom line is that providing composting or encouraging carbon offsets may no longer be enough. Organizations are increasingly including a sustainability statement or sustainability requirements section in their RFPs which may include access to public transportation to/from the venue, nearby green space, being intentional to include minority-owned businesses in vendor selection, or other characteristics that reflected in the organization’s mission and vision.
Along with the event’s impact on the environment, organizations are also being challenged to consider the impact of the event environment on the attendee. DEIA efforts have come a long way in a few years mature organizations may move into the next stage of inclusion, which is belonging. This includes both the destination itself and the environment within your event. Review your organization’s values which may shape your destination and venue selection.
Once a decision has been made, helping your attendees understand the type of setting(s) the meeting will take place in allows them to plan their experience accordingly and ask for any accommodations they need to fully participate. If your organization has members in the event destination, ask them to walk routes in advance at the event time to assess the area from an attendee perspective. This may result in additional reminders or advice to attendees. Have conference or membership committee members available at registration to walk with attendees who prefer not to walk alone. Pre-event surveys or polls embedded in pre-event communications can help gauge attendees’ level of belonging and identify concerns. Host a virtual “Know Before You Go” session and allow anonymous questions. Breakout networking rooms (by interest, location, or specialty) with a committee member ‘hosting’ destination trivia can foster connections ahead of the event so that attendees know at least one person when they arrive.
Including these factors in your discussions and research will set your organization’s events up for success in 2023!