While the ill effects the pandemic wrought is mostly behind the
events industry, and MICE planners forge ahead with new learnings and an
agility born out of adversity to cater to the evolved demands, there
are still a multitude of challenges that lie ahead. From the lack of
flights and accommodations for delegates to APAC’s slower recovery,
three event planners share their difficulties.
Gregory Crandall, senior vice president, global activation team, Pico
What is surprising is how the meaning of ‘hybrid’ has evolved, becoming an integral component of brands’ approach to events.
Has the Covid situation met my expectations? Yes and no, depending on
the market. There are countries in APAC that have plans to go forward
and that are taking steps to achieve a balance between community health
and repairing local and international business. At the same time, other
APAC countries are still searching for a path ahead, resulting in
constantly changing goalposts and a weaker environment for events.
Beyond these localised obstacles, it’s beyond doubt that human
interaction and live events will remain a priority for audiences and
brands alike. It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that there’s been a
shift toward a physical-digital hybrid approach. What is surprising is
how the meaning of ‘hybrid’ has evolved, becoming an integral component
of brands’ approach to events. It’s also notable how brands are
expanding their hybrid toolkits to increase audience engagement.
experience of the past two and a half years has brought new skills and
considerations to the table. We now integrate online and digital
audiences in our solutions and bring a higher level of health and safety
to events, and we have learned to adapt more quickly and effectively.
I’m extremely confident that demand for live events will continue to
grow – but I also see an ever-deeper involvement and growth by engaging
remote digital participants at these events.
Luther Low, regional operations director, Asia Pacific at CWT Meetings & Events.
Clients are... making decisions more quickly. We have fewer clients asking for multiple destination proposals and the approval time has been cut down significantly.
There has been a sharp rebound in demand. While clients in APAC are
still mostly looking at destinations within the region for their
meetings and events over the next few months, we are seeing an
increasing number of enquiries for incentives going to European
destinations in 2023.
Clients are acutely aware of how demand is outstripping supply at the
moment, with flights, hotels and meeting venues being snapped up at a
rapid pace, so they are making decisions more quickly. We have fewer
clients asking for multiple destination proposals and the approval time
has been cut down significantly.
To a great extent, confidence has returned, especially for events
being planned in destinations like Singapore, Australia and Thailand,
where restrictions have been largely relaxed and where the Covid
situation has become relatively stable.
for meetings and events have increased in all regions across most
categories of spend, fuelled by pent-up demand, a desire to build
company culture, and an uncertain economic outlook. The
cost-per-attendee in 2022 is expected to be around 25% higher than in
2019, and it’s projected to rise a further 7% in 2023, according to our
latest price forecast.
As demand continues to outpace supply, it has become increasingly
difficult to secure flights, hotels and meeting space. Furthermore, the
ongoing labour shortage across the travel and MICE industries is causing
significant disruption to plans.
All these factors have created a very volatile and challenging
environment for M&E programs, but it’s also causing planners to
think about how they can make their programmes more resilient – whether
that’s through adopting strategic meetings management principles, making
better use of data or leveraging virtual and hybrid formats.
Natalie Crampton, founder of Dubai-based TEC
We’re still factoring in hybrid, but it’s not pandemic-related, it’s actually more about cutting down on costs and considering the environment.
We are seeing shorter lead times – clients are being given the go
ahead to do an event and they want to run with it and they want to go
now, before there are any changes to travel rules or restrictions.
Clients are also really excited to get back to face-to-face events and
we’re seeing a lot of enthusiasm.
We’re still factoring in hybrid, but it’s not pandemic-related, it’s
actually more about cutting down on costs and considering the
environment. What's the point in flying a speaker over from the US for a
30-minute session – it’s a 16-hour flight to Dubai, versus hosting them
on a virtual meeting platform. We're seeing quite a lot of this and
it’s something we didn’t really have prior to Covid.
We are still being cautious with our plans B and C, we want to make
sure that plan is there, and it signals we are confident with
compliance, that we know what to do in the face of disruption. We also
don't want to lose all the skills that we've learned over the last
couple of years, from having hosted hybrid and virtual events.
Expectations for the next six months are looking very promising –
this is shaping up to be our biggest year yet in terms of revenue, since
we began operating in 2008.