North American meeting planners are increasingly optimistic
about the recovery of events, despite facing a slew of challenges, the latest Meetings
Industry Pulse Survey suggests.
More than 60% of planners were ‘more optimistic’ about the
outlook for recovery, compared with fewer than half in June, with new booking and
sourcing levels remaining high.
The results indicate growing resilience in a sector that was
battered by the pandemic and now faces a combination of inflation, low staffing
levels, and the threat of new Covid-19 variants.
The survey, carried out every six weeks by Northstar
Meetings Group and Cvent, has become a fascinating barometer of sentiment
during this most challenging period for event planners.
The latest, carried out in August, surveyed 461 meeting
planners, mainly from North America, of which 38% (175) were from associations
or PCOs (professional congress organisers).
It found 85% of planners were noticing a ‘material impact’
on their events because of rising costs and more - 30% compared to 24% last
time – were increasing prices to offset these costs.
Other concerns were airline pricing and service, travel and
meeting budgets, hotel staffing, and the impact of geo-politics, all of which
have risen or stayed roughly the same in the last six weeks.
Tellingly, far fewer planners were satisfied with their hotel
partners relative to their other supplier relationships, such as with convention
bureaus, venues, technology providers etc.
This could be down to a lack of shared vision. As one
respondent noted: “Hotels are choosing to recover on their own and not in
partnership with their planner customers.”
Another wrote: “Staffing is our greatest
challenge in planning programs. Hopefully suppliers staff up to accommodate the
growing needs of our clients who want to have live meetings.”
Despite these obstacles, planners remained busy with three
out of four planning their next event before the end of the year. Encouragingly
more than 55% predict volumes will be higher in 2023.
Download the full report
AMI editor James
Lancaster is a familiar face in the meetings industry and international
association community. Since joining AMI in 2010, he has gained a reputation
for asking difficult questions and getting lost in convention centres. Proofer, podcaster, and panellist - in his spare time, James likes to walk,
read, listen to music, and drink beer.