Business events are roaring back. Getting talent is now the challenge

M&C Asia Connections 2022 takes a closer look at the hot issues facing the global business event sector right now amid unprecedented demand.

At M&C Asia Connections 2022, Northstar Meetings Group's David Blansfield led the panel discussion at Marina Bay Sands with Elevated Meeting Solutions' Timothy Glanzer, World Express Group's Darren Tan; and WI Communications' Marisa Lutter.
At M&C Asia Connections 2022, Northstar Meetings Group's David Blansfield led the panel discussion at Marina Bay Sands with Elevated Meeting Solutions' Timothy Glanzer, World Express Group's Darren Tan; and WI Communications' Marisa Lutter.

Not enough people want to work in business events and hospitality right now, and that’s causing a major challenge for the entire sector globally amid swift return of business in Asia and the rest of the world.

Northstar Meetings Group executive vice president and group publisher, David Blansfield, led the panel discussion at Marina Bay Sands on Tuesday, with participants including US-based Timothy Glanzer from Elevated Meeting Solutions; managing director of World Express Group in Singapore, Darren Tan; and director of WI Communications in the UK and Germany, Marisa Lutter.

Happy to be back in Singapore in the flesh, Blansfield said the world is fast emerging from what has been the most dramatic crisis in the international travel industry that he and probably everybody else had ever experienced.

Surveys conducted by the Northstar Meetings Group throughout the pandemic had clearly shown the sector had been struggling, but the latest one, to be released this week, is telling a very different story, with challenges of a different kind.

Glanzer agreed, saying the US market – and particularly Las Vegas where he was based – had been “crushed” by the pandemic.

“But as we’ve come through this the fire hose has been turned on and we’ve seen extreme demand, not only in Las Vegas but throughout the United States,” he told the audience who were live and viewing the session online.

“That demand also includes interest in leaving the United States and going back into international events heavily," he added. “We’re really seeing a significant resurgence in events to the point where now it’s becoming difficult to find dates.”

He said Elevated Meeting Solutions is having to educate its clients on planning ahead – not three or six months but years to guarantee dates for venues and destinations they want to travel to. “And that’s something we’ve never done before.”

Asked whether the speed at which business had returned was a surprise, World Express Group’s Tan said it had been. His company was experiencing strong business activity in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Bali and Vietnam.

“I didn’t anticipate that the recovery would be so fast,” he said. “It’s been an overnight wave. It’s a good thing but challenging. Like everyone else our company is short of staff, like the hotels and the airlines, and we’re playing catch up. I’m spending a lot of time on recruitment.”

WI Communications' Lutter said she had been fortunate to have been managing small MICE events in Europe in 2021 from their offices in the UK and Germany.

“Our corporate clients were wanting smaller group events in places that were within two to two-and-a-half hours flying,” she said. Spain and smaller regional areas in Europe were in high demand.

She said business in 2022 is extremely strong but said her clients remain wary of the potential of future pandemics and are looking at alternatives.

“I see technology as at least a partial element of the future,” she said, citing the potential for running hybrid events where appropriate a very real opportunity to deal with ongoing uncertainty.

Glanzer said his number one challenge is staff in his own business and in venues.

“Everyone knows when you’re in hospitality it comes with long hours, exaggerated schedules. It doesn’t always come with exaggerated payroll. I think that the disconnect during Covid provided people with the chance to sit and look in the mirror and say is this really the industry for me?

“When I go to call my contacts at hotels now – and it’s not one or two – they’re no longer there. We need to treat our hospitality friends better, we need to find out ways to recognise and celebrate them in a more dynamic way, and I think as a community we can do it together. We just need to take a different approach.”



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