The meetings and events industry’s recovery continues on a positive trajectory, with venues reporting continued growth in event volume levels, according to IACC’s latest Meeting Room of the Future Barometer (MRoTF) 2022, which was released today. Two-thirds of respondents reported recovery to above half of 2019 volume and one-third reported having surpassed a recovery to 80% of 2019 volume.
The research shows that residential meeting venues are recovering faster than non-residential venues, especially in Europe, where approximately one quarter of residential venues have already surpassed pre-pandemic volume levels, compared with 9% in the Americas.
Encouragingly, since the last MRoTF survey, in April 2022, the percentage of venues planning to invest in conference and meeting room spaces has increased to 70%, from 65%, with public spaces the next highest priority.
When asked about changes they had seen in the adoption of hybrid meetings in the last six months, the most noticeable shift reported by respondents was hybrid elements being added to events at short notice, to accommodate remote speakers. This was more common in the Americas (73%) than in Europe (48%). Similarly, the need for hybrid to be added at the last moment because of travel issues for attendees was almost twice as common for North American venues (60%) than for European venues (31%).
Sustainability continues to increase in importance, though there are still clear regional disparities. The report shows that ESG policies appear to be of much higher priority for event planners in Europe than in the Americas, with European venues almost three times more likely to receive requests for their social responsibility credentials and twice as likely to receive requests for their environmental policies.
The same is true for requests for carbon measurements, with 21% of European respondents receiving noticeable requests from clients to provide the carbon footprint to run meetings at their venues, compared with 6% in the Americas.
Mark Cooper, CEO of IACC commented: “The latest Meeting Room of the Future Barometer clearly points to the fact that the industry’s recovery continues to grow, despite ongoing geo-political and economic challenges. Interestingly, regional disparities are becoming evident, with our report showing that Europe tracks ahead of the Americas in a number of areas, including the pace of recovery for residential venues and when it comes to requiring venues to provide evidence of sustainability criteria.
“I expect that we will begin to see this focus on sustainability growing globally in coming reports. As part of our commitment to supporting our members to deliver against the requirements of event planners, we recently created a template of questions for planners to add to their RFPs. The aim is to help them craft Requests for Proposals to venues, so that they can easily assess them based on their social and environmental credentials.
“From the point of view of IACC’s member venues, it is very promising that the report shows investment in facilities is increasing. As client expectations, preferences, and behaviours shift, it’s important that venues prioritise investment in their technological capabilities and in upgrading their conference and meeting spaces, as a return to in-person events becomes increasingly preferred.”
The survey was conducted in October 2022 and includes responses from 98 global venue operators, with over with 59% of respondents from the Americas (US and Canada), 37% from Europe (Sweden, the UK, Denmark, Belgium, and the Netherlands), and the balance from Australia.
IACC’s template of sustainability questions for planners to add to their RFPs can be found: https://www.iacconline.org/meeting-request-faq