The global meetings industry has been incredibly resilient and adaptable, navigating the challenges the past few years thrown up.
Throughout this time, organisations have been forced to re-evaluate their strategy and focus on value. High impact activities and less is more approaches have been needed particularly while cash flows are under pressure.
But with that, also comes innovation and new opportunities. Hot off the heels of a successful Asia Pacific Incentives and Meeting Event (AIME) – the first international tradeshow hosted in Melbourne and Australia since Australia’s international borders reopened, The Nibbler spoke with Melbourne Convention Bureau Chief Executive Julia Swanson about her thoughts on trends to watch as the business events sector builds back momentum.
According to Ms. Swanson optimisation of meeting design is the buzz phrase of 2022. The last two years have been an environment of fast decision making with a focus on business continuity. This has meant short-term planning cycles, learning on the run and fast execution, especially across virtual and hybrid events.
“With strong demand for in-person events to return and rapid developing technology, the focus needs to be on optimal meeting design to cater for both in-person and virtual attendees, noting their needs and experiences differ and delivery needs to be personalised to the channel.
“Organisations will also need to think through commercial realities of multi-channel meetings and understand the impact on their bottom line,” says Ms. Swanson.
Similarly, with the explosion in technology options available brought on by necessity during COVID, Swanson says we should expect see the range of products evolve and consolidate – with stronger products that integrate with multiple systems and offer solutions to planners gaining market share.
“It will be survival of the fittest with some strong products evolving as market leaders. This also gives rise for event organisers to rethink inclusion at their future events. A focus on diversity will be key to ensure a wide range of perspectives are brought to audiences and maximum engagement can be provided.
“It’s an exciting time for the sector to capitalise on the strong demand for in-person attendance, whilst building audiences through complementary technology solutions,” Swanson adds.
Meetings with purpose will come to the fore. There is a huge opportunity for the sector to continue to grow its focus on legacy outcomes of business events.
Swanson suggests organisations can look to create legacy visioning into their forward planning – setting goals well in advance on what they want to achieve for their organisations, members, delegates and destinations.
“Purpose-based meetings will grow as their attendees feel part of a bigger vision that lasts beyond the days of the meeting itself,” she says.
Swanson envisages sustainability will continue to grow in importance. The environmental impact of business events has been a focus for a while, yet with the resumption of in-person events a renewed focus has been heightened on how they can be run to minimise impact on the destination.
“Planners will increasingly include environmental credentials in their request for proposal and seek assistance from convention bureaux and the supply chain to minimise their impact,” she says.
Health and wellness will continue to be top of mind for all event participants, with COVID-safety and risk mitigation remaining for the foreseeable future.
“Destinations with high vaccination rates, COVID-safety standards of venues and trusted healthcare systems will have a competitive advantage.
“Further to that, I see the wellness of attendees growing in importance. This will increase focus on outdoor events, pre-and-post regional touring and wellness programs into meeting design,” says Ms. Swanson.
Last but not least, to get the most value out of an event in a post pandemic world, Swanson recommends event planners should consider engaging with a destination’s convention bureau.
In today’s fast-paced, changing world, the event industry has evolved and opportunities to connect can certainly be overwhelming. This is exactly where a convention bureau can step in and help.
“Unless you’ve personally had experience with a convention bureau, you may not know what support services they provide for corporate and association event planners.
“Working with a destination’s convention bureau can help you transform the way you engage and connect your clients, whether it be through a corporate event, conference, team strategy day or incentive trip,” Swanson says.
Want to see how Melbourne Convention Bureau can help bring your next event to life? Discover event support with Melbourne Convention Bureau here or contact the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.