APAC's business events recovery: Delayed but not derailed

That's the Q2 sentiments from Events Industry Council’s Global Business Events Barometer survey. Will things pick up in Q3?

Asia Pacific lags behind in both RFP activity and group room nights in Q2.
Asia Pacific lags behind in both RFP activity and group room nights in Q2. Photo Credit: GettyImages/ktsimage

Globally the business events industry has been recovering, but how is Asia Pacific faring in the recovery phase compared to the rest of the world?

It's not all good news when you look at the Events Industry Council’s (EIC) 2022 Q2 Global Business Events Barometer survey released last week, which reveals that Asia Pacific is behind in both request for proposal (RFP) activity and group room nights.

The global RFP activity index average, according to the survey, is 81 or, put as a percentage, 81% when compared to 2019. But when you drill down to regions, the Asia Pacific’s activity index is just 53 or, as a percentage, 53%.

Riding the current wave is Central Europe (110), North America (103) and the Middle East (106), with Latin America (93) and Africa (92) almost back to 2019 levels.

Western Europe is lagging with an RFP index of 74 but that’s still better than the Asia Pacific by a whopping 21 points.

And it’s the same with group hotel room night bookings, with Asia Pacific currently at 75 points (or 75% compared to 2019 figures), compared to the global average of 83.

That figure is led by North America (93), Latin America and the Caribbean (93), and the Middle East (84). Other regions performing below average are Western Europe (81), Africa (64), and Central and Eastern Europe (50).

No doubt the low Eastern Europe figure is a knock-on effect from the war in Ukraine and Russian sanctions. What is impacting the lower African figures in terms of hotel room night bookings is less clear.

Similarly, the lower number of RFPs and group hotel room night bookings in the Asia Pacific region is most probably being skewed by low travel to Japan and China. News that Japan should be open to all international travellers by mid-October could see a shift in the next Q3 survey.

In terms of RFP activity by country, the survey places Australia in second place (114 points) behind Mexico (143). Other strong RFP activity from Asia Pacific countries include 13th placed Thailand (70 points), the Philippines in 17th (46), Japan in 18th (36) and China in 19th place (29). 

On the latest study findings, CEO of the Events Industry Council, Amy Calvert, said despite the global challenges the world is currently facing including rising inflation, the energy crisis, and the continuing war in Ukraine, Q2 saw business events gather momentum, with particularly strong activity in the Middle East and North America.

“While this increase in business is to be welcomed, our industry is yet to fully return to pre-pandemic levels,” she said. “Global economic prospects saw an overall decline in Q2 against the threats of a global recession.

“Our research partner, Oxford Economics, is cautious on the near-term economic outlook, now anticipating a set of economies, particularly in Europe but also the US and Canada, will enter recession over the coming quarters. These recessions are anticipated to be short and mild, representing a headwind that slows, but does not upend, a sustained travel recovery.”

As well as findings on RFP activity and hotel group room nights, the Global Events Barometer survey also asked respondents what they perceived as their top future risks. Results were: Russia-Ukraine war (40%), rapid central bank tightening (25%), higher inflation triggering market turmoil (16%) and inflation expectations remaining elevated (11%).

The next study will be undertaken in Q3 of 2022.

The Events Industry Council represents more 30 member organisations, 103,500 individual professionals and 19,500 companies and properties involved in the events industry.