What does the new meeting culture look like in 2022?

Two agencies share their perspectives on corporate travel trends and what's driving businesses to meet.

Experts say that demand for global business travel and events is strong, albeit with audience size reduction.
Experts say that demand for global business travel and events is strong, albeit with audience size reduction. Photo Credit: GettyImages/jcomp

A survey from Sabre released last month offers an optimistic outlook for corporate travel, naming it "the new office culture". It says that smaller companies are returning to corporate travel faster than large corporations, which might need longer lead times to adapt their travel policies and safety guidance, but that the desire for business travel is strong.

Deloitte’s research on global business travel, published in April, says that concerns about restrictions, employee willingness to travel, and in-person events have reduced significantly.

Tay Ling, vice president at Pico Japan, says there is still a great deal of pent-up demand among company employees to get out and enjoy a change of scenery, albeit with a drop in numbers.

“It may be that many business travellers see their trips as ‘bleisure’ excursions, no matter what the destination,” he says. “Overall, companies are generally happy to travel and meet, but audience sizes have seen a huge reduction. They’re generally at around 100-200 people per meeting, instead of the 1,000 there might have been in the past.”

The agency is finding that corporate travel depends very much on the country and client. “Recently, our Taiwan office was working on a summit event for an electronics brand,” explains Tay Ling. “This client very much wanted that face-to-face meeting experience; so much so that when Taiwan’s quarantine couldn’t be lifted, they shifted the event to South Korea.”

For those unable to travel to certain destinations, it’s important to help them reimagine the experience. This can be in the form of local watch-parties in cities so people can feel like they are taking part in the event or creating a mini version of the bigger event. This can also mean simply ensuring all the main event content can be livestreamed with live Q&As for online and offline audiences.

“These experiences will never be the same as in-person, so it’s crucial to make people in other markets, who are not attending, feel the love,” says Phil Boyle, senior vice president, managing director, Asia at Jack Morton.

“Everyone who isn’t travelling should have access to the same swag, or access to homemade cocktail kits like the ones at the event, or dinner bookings at restaurants in the local city that may mirror the destination of the event," he adds. "Make it feel like the people who are not in the room are just as important, if not more than, the people in the room.”

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