It’s no secret that in-person events are making a comeback. While attendees are growing more comfortable and confident in face-to-face gatherings in 2022, planners and venues are tasked with navigating new mandates and guidelines while ensuring that guests feel safe, engaged, and connected.
In our recent event, “Tracking the Return of Meetings & Events: Breaking Down the Booking Trends for 2021-2022,” we sat to discuss recent event trends with:
Joshua Novick, VP, North America, Business Travel of London & Partners
Below we’ve recapped their key takeaways and insights on what’s happening in meetings and events space across the globe, as well as what they see emerging across venue sourcing, associations, and event sales across the industry.
There’s Overwhelming Demand for In-Person Events
All panelists readily agreed that they are seeing a huge demand and excitement around in-person events. People want to experience the intimacy of being in the same room and having face to face conversations again. As many slots in 2022 are already filling up, one resounding word of advice was, “Book now.”
Hannah Foley, Head of Community of The Vendry noticed that demand seemed higher amongst smaller gatherings (50 or less), with more 2022 RFPs coming in for these sizes of events as opposed to larger ones. Joshua Novick from London & Partners also noted that some clients were eager to gather sooner than later, as long as travel guidelines permitted them to.
Hybrid is Here to Stay
Hybrid may seem like a new and catchy buzz word, but it’s been a format that’s long been used by event planners and producers. What’s new is that both venue and technology have improved dramatically, which has elevated hybrid events into more seamless and immersive experiences. Technologies that enable virtual networking pre-event are helping spark more holistic connections day of, and new event technology is helping simplify the check-in, breakout, and streaming processes throughout.
To provide a solution for this rising demand of hybrid events, Convene discussed how they launched Convene Studio – the proprietary platform that powers hybrid events both at our spaces, as well as 3rd party venues as well. At the time of the recording, 30-40% of Convene’s events were hosted in a hybrid format, and that number has only grown since.
Cities are Investing in Events Infrastructure
As major events like the US Open and New York Fashion Week return, cities are improving their infrastructure to help boost travel and guest attendance. NYC recently completed its Penn Station renovation, offering more direct rides into the city via Amtrak, and JFK and LaGuardia Airports have also invested significantly into renovations and expansion. These efforts reflect the desire to bring visitors back into the city, to explore all of the events that New York has to offer.
Joshua Novick, also echoed this sentiment from across the pond. In addition to Convene’s new London location at 22 Bishopsgate, which claims 50,000 square feet of dedicated meeting space, there have been over a dozen new hotels with meeting spaces opened in the past year thanks to the city’s “Let’s Do London” campaign.
Venues are Building out New Events Infrastructure
Hotels and venues are quickly adopting hybrid-friendly infrastructures, too. Matt Schechter, Director, National Accounts of NYC & Company mentioned that many venues are investing in in-house virtual and hybrid technology and equipment, in order to broadcast future virtual and hybrid events and host more large format gatherings for both virtual and in-person long term.
They are also getting more creative about collaborating with others to rework their event offerings. “Dual hub” or “omnichannel events” were two key phrases that the experts discussed in depth relating to new venue infrastructure, both of which define how planners and venues are leverage technology to create more communal experiences. One example mentioned how venues are coordinating matching menus for guests across different time zones, so that they can experience each event’s space and culture authentically and collectively.
New Protocols Surrounding Health & Safety Measures
A top concern for planners and venues is health and safety. Planners and attendees are becoming savvier around navigating health and safety protocols, and are taking measures to require social distancing, masking, and practicing cleanliness and sanitization whenever possible.
Experts see that attendees are willing to take the necessary measures to keep themselves and others safe as well. As Lollapalooza launched in 2021, 90% of attendees chose getting vaccinated over taking Covid tests, and 12% of attendees got vaccinated just to attend the event.
To provide the highest level of event assurance, all of Convene’s venues and internal staff are required to be vaccinated, and work exclusively with venues that are requiring proof of vaccination or a recent negative Covid test. We’ve been working collaboratively with our partners to bring in-person events back safely, and so far, the response has been overwhelmingly positive.
As we continue to pivot along with ongoing changes from the Coronavirus, planners, companies, and attendees are all showing great resilience in order to stay connected. What’s resulted from 18 months behind screens is a more seasoned and savvier events industry, that’s ready to launch a new era of events.
Click here to listen to the full conversation.
Contact us to learn more about Convene’s full suite of products that can help you plan for 2022 events and beyond.