October 2022




The challenges that meeting planners will meet in 2023

Host organisations must get creative to navigate rising costs and hotel staffing issues

This article was originally found on M&C/Asia.

Meetings are back in a big way and host organisations must get creative to navigate rising costs and hotel staffing issues, according to a new report from meetings management company BCD Meetings & Events, released Thursday.

Globally, increased costs are challenging meetings sourcing processes, event budgets and goals, but are being met with “strategic creativity,” among meeting organisers according to BCD M&E's "What’s Trending 2023" report, which was sponsored by Hilton. BCD M&E is the meetings management arm of travel management company BCD Travel.

“While Covid is no longer the driving factor, challenges such as soaring sourcing and travel costs, inflation, supply chain issues, staffing, increased meeting requirements, payment issues and more, are forcing planning teams to keep a close eye on containing costs. They must train and hone their creative muscles to deliver successful meetings and events and high ROI for all stakeholders,” BCD M&E stated in the report.

BCD M&E also encouraged companies to move toward more strategic meetings management processes to support these areas of concern, and they noted certain regions like Asia-Pacific gaining traction in this effort. The report called out the “great disconnect in understanding the impact of their meetings and events” on corporate strategy and success for companies lacking cohesive meetings management.

For those companies, “an overarching, ongoing consideration for SMM in 2023 [is finding new ways] to demonstrate the value of meetings and events to all stakeholders,” according to the report. Understanding and containing costs is part of that value, but the programme can’t be expected to deliver savings against 2019 budgets.

Report authors estimated an event that cost US$20,000 in the United States in 2019 now could run US$27,000, which will pose a challenge for meetings procurement teams looking to prove their value with a pre-pandemic baseline. That said, pent-up demand for seeing clients and colleagues in person will take priority over “easing the strain on planners’ budget.”

As demand accelerates, organisations should book events as far in advance as possible—“the speediest to contract will be who secures spaces first,” according to BCD—but hosts may be forced to cut corners to keep spending in check.

This urgency planners must lock in venues and contracts links to other top global and regional concerns.

Top concerns in Asia-Pacific

The pandemic still casts a shadow over the region, with China still following a zero-Covid policy. As such, BCD managing director of Asia-Pacific Sanjay Seth noted the “constant need for agility and flexibility in event format for planners in this region heading into 2023.”

While in-person meetings and face-to-face connections remain an “effective format” in Asia-Pacific, according to the report, organisers must consider which locations grant access to the most attendees without quarantine and restrictions. This challenge also comes with lack of inventory and staffing in high-demand areas and rising costs. As a result, virtual formats remain “largely preferred,” Seth reported and organisers are favouring simpler formats, leaning away from “complex hybrid events” due to high costs and longer lead times to execute.

For in-person events still underway in the region, lead times are “increasingly shorter and hotel availability is scarce, pushing planners toward quick decision making,” according to the report. Meanwhile, many budgets in Asia-Pacific are tight and “not increasing to match the backdrop of global inflation, pushing planners to be more strategic and creative in budget management.” As a result of tight timing and reduced budget, meeting hosts are favouring packaged vendor offerings and built-in capabilities, Seth noted.

“While it’s fine to have a global strategy, getting regional and local buy-in is more critical than ever due to stringent consideration for supplier partners based on their flexibility and costs,” Seth noted.

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