As 2024 fast approaches, we spoke to some of the business meetings and events industry’s leading figures to find out what they think the next 12 months will have in store for the sector.
Building trust through accreditation
Championing industry standards will be a key theme for 2024. If we want to attract world-class business meetings and events, it’s essential that we market the UK as an accredited destination. A destination whereby no matter which region inbound buyers plan to host their event, they can be assured they’ll discover a wealth of quality meetings spaces featuring the finest facilities.
And to help make that a reality and further build trust in the UK’s business meetings and events offering, we’ll be remaining firmly focused on sector standards. We’ll be encouraging even greater adoption and commitment to our nationally recognised AIM Secure accreditation while further enhancing our much sought-after AIM Higher, which honours and elevates excellence throughout the entire customer journey.
Kerrin MacPhie, Chief Executive, Meetings Industry Association
Greater commercialisation and investment
Future events are going to be more varied and creative in their approach to commercialisation. From what we’re already witnessing, I think we’re likely to see a shift towards more digitalised and data driven events to facilitate even greater revenue generation through direct sponsorship.
Elsewhere, with sustainability legislation such as the Energy Performance Certificate tightening – over the next 12 months venues are likely to be planning their investment strategies to ensure their properties are compliant and carbon negative by 2030. Efforts have to be focused on tackling all three phases of emissions to reduce their carbon footprints from source, instead of just relying on offsetting it.
Eventually, in the next five years we’ll witness an evolution where the industry is not only seeking sustainability accreditations but is instead truly embracing its environmental impact from a social, climatic and energy performance perspective.
Warren Campbell, General Manager, 15Hatfields
Nostalgia and heritage in event experiences
We’re already seeing a resurgence of interest in events with a focus on nostalgia and heritage. This will likely continue for the year ahead, with a growing demand for experiences that celebrate authenticity, offer unique stories and have some level of cultural significance.
As advancements in digital and technology accelerate at an aggressive speed, venues will need to acclimatise to the combination of tradition and nostalgia with modern event requirements and innovation. Delegates and event planners want the best of the past, present and future seamlessly blended into one.
Jess Gallagher, Venue and Hospitality Manager, The Royal Society of Chemistry at Burlington House
The multifaceted event
With budget constraints, time pressures and ongoing challenges, event planners will increasingly be looking to host events that encompass more elements than ever. Venues and suppliers will need to work harder to deliver on corporate events that offer wellbeing components, are sustainable, offer sufficient networking opportunities and provide an experience for delegates. The lines are blurring when categorising an event type, i.e. a conference might now also be a team celebration, a training day, a social and an awards dinner all in one.
Flexibility and innovation will need to be the top characteristics of venues and their teams to keep events engaging, successful and affordable.
Rafael Azzopardi, Head of Events, Regent’s Events
Holistic approach to sustainability
We can expect sustainability to be top of everyone’s agenda in 2024. We’ll see a more holistic approach taken by firms across the business meetings and events industry who will see value in applying a sustainable ethos to every aspect of their business – from developing and supporting staff, to building stronger supply chains, while also lessening their carbon footprint – in order to survive and grow.
After a turbulent few years, which led to short-term, protective measures, the industry is now ready to move forward in a more visionary way that will ensure a more stable future.
Jack Marczewski, portfolio event director of The Meetings Show, TEAMS Europe and Business Travel Show Europe
Lean towards wellness events
Wellness has become a central focus for event organisers, venues and attendees in the last few years, and this trend is only becoming more important as we move into 2024 – especially for venues like Foxhills that blend facilities for events and leisure.
We are seeing an uplift in guests and members seeking to try new activities and in response have invested in Pickleball and Padel Tennis courts that will open early 2024. We are expecting event organisers to want to incorporate these types of activities into more holistic conferences and events, too – alongside making more of our spa, golf and dining facilities. An additional offering of an overnight stay as part of a wellness package can also be invaluable to many who are both looking to reduce travel stress and fully embrace the event.
Josh Abbott, Marketing Manager, Foxhills Club & Resort
Going digital and remaining flexible
Following a continuous hit on the UK’s financial landscape, the onus is on event spaces to counteract this with a greater focus on flexibility throughout. Shorter lead times and bespoke requirements have become even more prominent and with that comes a greater attention needed on the entirety of the booking experience.
AI very much looks to be the way forward for an effective and inexpensive method and system. Implementing new automation services will only help improve the meetings and events booking journey for both parties with more personalised options, reduction of errors and providing more customer data-driven insights.
We’ll also be adapting and innovating our delegate packages, further incorporating sustainable elements of the venue, offering a wider scope of booking times and embracing spaces inside and outside the venue to present a more viable option for event planners.
Sharon Power, Director of Sales, Wotton House