How concerned are associations about meetings sustainability?

Back to business as usual: survey indicates majority of associations unconvinced on importance of reducing environmental impact of meetings.

Even with record high temperatures in Germany and the rest of Europe this summer, an industry survey suggests that associations don't seem deeply concerned about the environmental impact of meetings.
Even with record high temperatures in Germany and the rest of Europe this summer, an industry survey suggests that associations don't seem deeply concerned about the environmental impact of meetings. Photo Credit: GettyImages/filmfoto

Associations are reverting to business as usual when it comes to international meetings after the pandemic failed to effect significant permanent change, a new survey suggests.

More than 40 per cent of associations will hold their largest meeting in-person this year, according to findings from the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA).

This was up from 14 per cent last year, when restrictions were still in place.

More than a third (33.5%) are opting for a basic ‘one-destination’ hybrid option, which could amount to little more than streaming or recording sessions to watch on-demand.

Only 4.3 per cent were attempting a hybrid format with multiple hubs in the same country, and even fewer (1.6%) were planning a ‘multi-hub’ meeting in multiple countries.

The environment is a concern for most associations when it comes to their meetings.

But, with Europe enduring record temperatures, it appears the pandemic failed to focus minds on sustainability to the extent some industry observers had predicted.

Only 35.6 per cent of respondents said it was ‘very important’ to ‘reduce the environmental impact of their event’. Some 55 per cent said it was ‘fairly’ or ‘somewhat’ important, while one in ten respondents (9.3%) said it was either ‘not very’ or ‘not at all’ important.

Some 171 association executives responded to the survey - Association Meeting Needs – which was sponsored by the Africa Society of Association Executives (Afsae).

And it appears most are taking comfort in the familiar after two years of upheaval.

Less than 20 per cent of associations said they would meet less frequently in future, with more than half indicating no change, and 17 per cent planning to meet more frequently.

Fewer associations were planning regional meetings this year, compared to 2021, suggesting a shift back to international formats. There was lingering uncertainty here, but only 37 per cent are now planning more regional meetings, down from 51 per cent last year.

Meetings are still the largest source of revenue for associations (for 43% of respondents, this is the main revenue stream) and the survey shows just over half (52%) of associations have been able to run an in-person meeting again since the start of the pandemic.

ICCA chief executive Senthil Gopinath said the relaxing of Covid-19 restrictions showed ‘promising trends of events returning back to in-person formats’.

He said: “The key message which can be extracted from the findings is that, ultimately, people prefer to meet in-person. Especially when it comes to networking, business events and exhibitions; in-person meetings remain the preferred format. The pandemic has, however, made associations closely assess their strategic priorities to place more emphasis on delivering sustainable meetings and ensuring diversity, equity, and inclusion through integration of digital access to events.”

Source: AMI



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