Guest Blog: In-person events – big brands lagging behind nimble SMEs

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National Sales Manager at Center Parcs Conferences & Events, Cat Bird
National Sales Manager at Center Parcs Conferences & Events, Cat Bird

Drawing on her personal experience as National Sales Manager at Center Parcs Conferences & Events, Cat Bird shares below her thoughts on these differing paces, and her predictions around strategies to re-energise their workforce in 2023.

Cat anticipates that by the end of 2023, this imbalance will have corrected itself and larger scale business will have caught-up with the more agile, smaller sized companies in their pursuit of large-scale meetings and events bookings.

Cat Bird, National Sales Manager at Center Parcs Conferences & Events, said: “In 2022, businesses had yet to return to the same level of corporate event activity as pre-pandemic, and we expect this difference to continue into 2023. Most noticeable, is the difference in pace of returning to in-person events between smaller businesses of say 40 employees and national businesses of 400+ employees.

“Post-pandemic, smaller businesses in general have found it easier to get employees together – fewer diaries to align, perhaps more willingness to get back together after years of remote working; in general they’ve been more nimble. In Q4 2022, when we reopened after £2.5m investment in our conferences and events space, we experienced a high volume of smaller, more intimate bookings, which have acted purely as ‘gratitude getaways’ to reward staff for their hard work and reconnect with colleagues.

“However, after a period of more relaxed and immersive team building away days, these businesses are now moving onto to organising bigger conferences and events with an emphasis on brand strategy and training. Yes, they are still adding on activities, recognising the importance of maintaining a balance of ‘work and play’, but the core purpose of their events is shifting in 2023.

“Meanwhile, larger businesses, for which the logistics of a company-wide event are far more complex, have taken longer to return to face-to-face events, and this is often because it can take six to nine-months to plan. These businesses have been a few steps behind their smaller counter parts, and in 2023 their focus is largely on bringing teams together for the first time again, with the confidence and aspiration to arrange bigger events of 450+ set to become more evident further down the line. By the end of the year, we anticipate larger businesses matching smaller businesses in their regularity of events, having rewarded staff with a gratuity getaway, and getting ‘back to business’.”

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