Expect slow but steady recovery for group meetings business

Room nights and RFP activity are about half of pre-pandemic levels, according to the results of The Global Events Barometer released by the Events Industry Council.

Face-to-face events show increased participation as public health conditions improve.
Face-to-face events show increased participation as public health conditions improve. Photo Credit: gettyimages/kasto80

The first results of a sweeping research project, The Global Events Barometer, were recently released by the Events Industry Council. The object of the ongoing study, commissioned by the EIC and conducted by Oxford Economics, is to monitor changes within the market relative to pre-pandemic levels. Quarterly reports will inform a wider EIC Economic Significance Study, due to be published in early 2022.

Results for Q3 2021 show positive signs of growth, indicating a strong demand for the return of face-to-face events. However, the level of business events being held globally is still far short of pre-pandemic levels. Global hotel group room nights in Q3 2021 reached 53 percent of Q3 2019 levels, and RFP activity for events in future periods was at half of Q3 2019 levels.

"We will almost certainly have to deal with further short-term challenges as we move into 2022 and face the uncertainty caused by emerging variants and potential resulting restrictions on daily life," noted Amy Calvert, CEO of the Events Industry Council.

"As an industry, we must continue to listen to the facts and scientific data and use this to help us make the necessary decisions and implement the appropriate measures to enable our industry to push forward with its recovery," Calvert added. "While we focus on building trust and confidence, we have remarkable examples from across the globe of business events happening safely and offering tremendous value and impact."

Recovery Is Slow But Steady

Activity levels certainly have improved relative to a year ago, when group hotel room nights and RFP activity were just 31 percent and 22 percent of 2019 Q3 levels, respectively. Gains have come as public health conditions improve in many regions and as organisations and individuals return to in-person events.

Activity levels for hotel room nights and RFPs show improvements relative to a year ago.
Activity levels for hotel room nights and RFPs show improvements relative to a year ago. Photo Credit: Events Industry Council

Among other noteworthy findings:
• Group business is strengthening first among smaller events (with RFP activity at 52 percent of 2019 Q3 levels), although large- and medium-sized events are not far behind, at 46 percent of pre-pandemic volume.
• Fifty-seven percent of U.S.-based companies have resumed some level of domestic travel, while just 20 percent have resumed international business travel.
• The recovery of group events activity during Q3 2021 was strongest in the Middle East, Asia Pacific, Africa and North America, as indicated by hotel group room nights.
• RFP activity for events in future periods shows stronger recovery in North America, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Middle East.

The Project Has Broad Industry Support

The Global Events Barometer is conducted by Oxford Economics and uses data provided by Amadeus' MeetingBroker distribution platform, Cvent, the Global Business Travel Association and STR Global.

Northstar Meetings Group is among supporters of the study, as well as the American Hotel and Lodging Association, American Society of Association Executives, Freeman, IACC, International Association of Exhibitions and Events, Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board, Maritz Global Events, Meetings Mean Business, MGM Resorts International, Meeting Professionals International, NYC and Co., Professional Convention Management Association, Religious Conference Management Association, Society of Independent Show Organizers and the U.S. Travel Association.

Source: Northstar Meetings Group

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