Reduced event budgets, recruiting talent and realising hybrid’s worth are just some of the issues the events industry is looking to address in the near future.
These issues were raised in a lively discussion hosted on 3 October by AIPC, the International Association of Convention Centres, entitled ‘Changing Customer Requirements’, which examined whether customer needs have really changed as live events have returned or whether the situation is similar to 2019. Chaired by AIPC CEO Sven Bossu, it featured input from convention centres and from Martin Boyle, CEO of IAPCO, the International Association of Professional Congress Organizers.
Boyle said that with regards to associations, there is a notable trend in delegates waiting until the very last minute to confirm attendance and whether their organisation has the budget to enable them to travel to events.
“There’re all sorts of social and economic reasons behind this reasoning, with the decline in the number of current seats that are available from the airlines - the actual stock isn't there for people to get to the event,” he says.
“But also the cost of flights and accommodation is really impacting heavily on budgets [and decisions as to whether people who have indicated an interest, do attend]. Previously, we’d have a good idea of what shape a congress would take 18 months before it took place, now it’s more like four or five months.”
Boyle says this, in turn, is having a knock-on effect on exhibitors’ budgets and the extent of their support, leading to hesitancy around their commitment too. “Whether it’s a pharmaceutical company or one from another sector, exhibitors will be keen to see the event content, they will want to ensure they are connecting with the right people [before committing],” he says.
Bossu said convention centres had invested significantly in digital platforms over the last two years, yet AIPC members are reporting that demand for hybrid events is not that high, as ‘no one has figured out how to make money out of a hybrid event.’ Boyle said that he believes hybrid is moving away from the ‘live’ element of an event.
“What I’m hearing from members is that hybrid is more successful as a platform to drip feed content before a congress, and when it is used to repackage content to ‘sell’ post-congress,” he said.
With regards to talent, Boyle referenced a recent Mckinsey survey, released in August, which pointed to how 65% of people who quit their jobs in the past two years are not returning to the industries they left. Participants debated that if the events industry is to recruit new talent, it needs to build better relationships with schools and universities, to demonstrate the value of working within the events sector.