More associations are swapping virtual platforms for conference
centres – but hybrid is now an established part of the meetings
landscape, a new report has found.
More than half of associations (51%) said they would be holding their
largest meeting in 2023 in person, compared to 41% in 2022 and 14% in
2021. But the virtual option, which became the norm during the pandemic,
was still backed by 37% of organisers, with hybrid (33%) being the
preferred option, virtual-only (3%), and multi-hub hybrid (1.3%).
And it is clear this shift has changed what associations need from
meeting industry suppliers. Almost all (91%) of associations have
changed or will soon be changing their RFPs, with the majority
indicating that they will be incorporating aspects such as
hybrid/digital options, sustainability as well as legacy initiatives.
Most of the respondents (83%) were making efforts to work towards
more sustainable events and practices. However, we need to be mindful
that associations are in different stages of the sustainability journey,
with some mentioning advanced and established sustainability
strategies, and others acknowledging there is yet a lot to learn.
Around 80% of respondents indicate that they have a DEI policy in place, or at least are making some efforts to address DEI.
Partnerships and collaboration is key in supporting associations in
their efforts towards more sustainable and inclusive events. By sharing
best practices and experience with peers and with meeting suppliers, as
well as engaging with initiatives such as the Net Zero Carbon Events,
the whole meetings industry can unite to tackle these challenges
177 associations took part in the survey, which was supported by the
European Society of Association Executives, the African Society of
Association Executives and the Asia-Pacific Federation of Association
Meetings and events are still the largest segment of revenue
generation for associations (for 51% of respondents this is the main
revenue stream) although there is a growing need for associations to
diversify their revenue stream to become more financially sustainable
for the future.
The survey shares insights into creative approaches for doing so, as
well as some great initiatives associations are undertaking to provide
year-round in person and digital engagement opportunities for their
Source: Association Meetings International