STUDY: Two-thirds of MICE professionals tip return to pre-pandemic meeting numbers within 12 to 24 months

MICE professionals are feeling more confident, well-equipped and ready to adapt to ongoing uncertainties coming into 2022, according to the findings of a new survey.

American Express Global Business Travel (Amex GBT) has released its 11th annual Global Meetings & Events Forecast, revealing that two-thirds (67 per cent) of meetings and events professionals around the world believe in-person meeting levels will return to their pre-pandemic numbers within one to two years.

In-person meetings and events are projected to grow in 2022, with 81 per cent of events expected to have an in-person element; however, the industry is neither expecting nor planning a return to business as usual.

Instead, professionals intend to take lessons learned during the pandemic to improve the value, effectiveness and sustainability of future events.

The environment will be a priority for most meetings and events programs in 2022, with 83 per cent of survey respondents indicating their organisations take sustainability into account when planning meetings and events.

The sustainability practices most cited by respondents were minimising paper usage and applying energy-saving and waste reduction measures for their 2022 meetings.

Specific to the Asia-Pacific region, meeting professionals are positive about the health of the industry in 2022, with nearly two-thirds (64 per cent) ranking their optimism level as eight or higher on a scale of one to 10, and 58 per cent believe their career options are good to excellent.

APAC survey respondents also expect 81 per cent of 2022 events in the region to include an in-person component, and 62 per cent expect in-person attendee numbers to return to pre-pandemic levels in the next one to two years.

Gerardo Tejado, general manager of meetings and events at Amex GBT, said: “While we are all eager to see the pent-up demand for meetings and events fully realised, we recognise that recovery will not be a straight line, and we can’t get there by simply repeating what we’ve done in the past.

“As we look to 2022, we expect the optimism, resourcefulness and innovation we’ve seen in the sector over the past two years lead to a new era of thoughtful, tech-forward, responsible M&E strategies.”

The forecast found the value of internal meetings is increasingly recognised by organisations, with internal and training meetings projected to see the largest growth in 2022.

Despite the rise of in-person meetings and events, virtual and hybrid formats will continue to play a key role, according to survey respondents.

Hybrid meeting formats will continue to gain traction as they help expand reach to wider audiences, create a built-in virtual contingency plan and increase return on investment. An increased number of attendees is expected across all event types and formats.

Featured image source: iStock/Chainarong Prasertthai