‘Prepare for a recession’: Event profs weigh in on 2023 concerns

From fighting shorter lead times to getting ready for a recession, here's what planners are keeping an eye on in the ever-evolving world of events.

Immersive content, longer lead times and tips for dealing with a recession top event profs’ concerns as the year unfolds.
Immersive content, longer lead times and tips for dealing with a recession top event profs’ concerns as the year unfolds. Photo Credit: Adobe Stock/gopixa

With the first quarter of 2023 now underway, event professionals are taking stock of the current state of the industry and looking ahead to what the future holds. 

In a recent webinar hosted by Cvent, experts shared their insights on the pressing challenges facing event planners, the importance of immersion in event design, and how to prepare for a potential recession.

Fight the short lead mentality

Event planners face a race for quality space and resources, according to Paulina Curto, senior manager, meetings and events at Cvent. She said that rising venue costs and staff shortages are impacting all its partners, so sourcing as many venues or vendors as early as possible will give planners more room for negotiation.

“There’s a last-minute booking mentality, a short lead time, a hesitation to book, we’re going to be fighting this [mindset] that is lingering from the pandemic,” she said.

Curto pointed out that venue contracts are typically one of the largest expenses of most planners’ budgets, easily taking up 30% or 40%.

“This isn’t a surprise but this large expense is coming at a higher cost and alongside this we’re talking additional manpower costs, higher prices for labour behind the build, for F&B - all of these costs are increasing so it’s really important to get ahead of that planning process,” she said. “Ensure you have multiple vendors to get a comparison view for negotiation.”

Get ready for the recession

Jason Greenman, founder and CEO of corporate accommodation and event venue services provider Akommo, is mindful of a recession, saying it will cause some specific challenges that event professionals need to start preparing for.

“Demand [for events] will continue but there will be adjustments to make in terms of event size and budget, and the type of events we do,” he says.

Cvent’s Curto says there will be an intense focus on ROI, which could result in consolidation of spend in areas such as technology stacks, where greater efficiencies and cost savings can be achieved.

“Re-establish relationships with partners and vendors - there are clever ways to get more creative,” Curto says. “For example, get your sponsors involved by asking them to sponsor an evening event or to cover the cost of your F&B.”

Leverage internal event programmes

Despite rising costs, it’s important to continue to keep internal events going, tempting though it may seem to cut back on these.

“Your community may not have the chance to get together as often as before but internal events are part of workplace culture,” says Felicia Asiedu, senior marketing manager for event marketing and management solutions at Cvent Europe.

“We’re working in disparate ways but there is so much value in connecting together. Internal events can also create brand awareness, becoming an extension of your marketing strategy, which is important when hiring employees, or in a retention scenario, and when interacting with existing or potential customers.”

Think immersive content

Sabrina Myers, founder of Hot Hospitality Exchange, says it’s vital to keep the concept of immersion in mind with regards to event design.

“It’s all about the attention span and how digital tools can amplify and enhance existing virtual programmes and touchpoints,” she said.

To deepen audience engagement, Myers recommends understanding attendee expectations and why people are coming to the event, regardless of whether it is in-person or virtual.

“People don’t want to hear the word hybrid as it means more money and more complexity, but hybrid is really about digital elements enhancing your event experience,” she said.

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