> Outlook for meetings business still bullish, but post-pandemic optimism has waned

Outlook for meetings business still bullish, but post-pandemic optimism has waned

The outlook for the meetings business remains bullish, but post-COVID optimism has waned somewhat, down 10% since Jan-2023, according to new insights from the Northstar Meeting Group and Cvent Meetings Industry Pulse Survey.

The latest edition of the survey for Jun-2023 (based on data collected from 14-Jun-2023 14 to 01-Jul-2023 from over 500 meeting planners) also identifies that approaching half meeting planners (44%) believe growing demand for meetings will spur growth in planner jobs.

Meanwhile, planner satisfaction levels have also improved despite high costs and service issues remaining common complaints, suggesting buyers and suppliers are effectively resolving ongoing marketplace challenges.

However, “optimism remains high, new bookings are strong, attendance is still lagging, and planners appear to be adjusting to inflation and service realities,” says the report.

While it is clear optimism is waning, the survey illustrates that right now “it’s not by much”.

More than half meeting planners remain optimistic (55%), with a further 30% not seeing any obvious change. The ‘optimistic’ outlook is just a two percentage point decline on Mar-2023.

Booking new events remains the current primary focus for live, in-person events (41% of respondents), rising two percentage points on Mar-2023, and the backlog of rescheduled events is now clearing, albeit slowly. One in four planners (25%) still need to produce events postponed because of the pandemic – this is down from 29% in Mar-2023.

Time horizons continue to be very tight. Most planners are booking new meetings between four and 12 months out.

The perceived value of face-to-face events continues to benefit from their prolonged absence too. Only 8% now see meetings as ‘significantly less valuable’ or ‘somewhat less valuable’ than before the pandemic, down from 14% in Mar-2023.

Attendance levels continue below pre-pandemic levels, while cost management strategies vary. Only two of every three planners report they’re cutting costs, indicating the importance of ensuring quality event experiences.

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