Future of Event Planning: 2023 Challenges and Trends

“In-person meetings roaring back in 2023” is the expectation of all persons surveyed by American Express for the company’s meetings and events report. Survey respondents were “very optimistic” about the future, with two-thirds expecting that the number of in-person events will return to pre-pandemic levels within the next year or two.

In addition to the number of in-person meetings increasing, survey results predict 87% of meetings with an in-person component, which represents a 6% increase over predictions for 2022.

As more associations add the in-person option back to meetings and conferences, meeting planners face new challenges. According to a 2023 trend report sponsored by Hilton, planners will have to navigate soaring travel and sourcing costs, inflation, supply chain issues, staffing issues, and more. One recommendation is to be sure that local and regional buy-in for the meeting is obtained early on in the planning process, even if the event has a global audience. Report authors suggest that this support can ease some of the supplier partner headaches.

Because these economic times test the budgets of association marketers and meeting planners, one author suggests these steps:

  1. Go back to the basics by focusing on the main objective that is often a more cost-effective strategy.
  2. Work out must-haves and nice-to-haves to figure out both fixed and variable costs.
  3. Reduce costs where possible by determining areas that can be cut.
  4. Secure lucrative sponsors that have a budget to spend.
  5. Rethink ticketing strategies by considering tiers to generate extra income.

Other advice included in the article “The Future of Event Planning & Beyond: What’s in Store for 2023” to help associations approach event planning in an ever-changing landscape, includes:

  • Take an audience centric approach to your event planning. Consider what type of content target audiences are looking for and use that data to personalize the experience.
  • Look to integrate more digital interactions into in-person events. Focus on how digital can improve the attendee experience during all three stages: pre, at, and post.
  • Integrate event technology with marketing and sales ecosystems.
  • Make in-person events more accessible and inclusive. Don’t neglect the attendees who weren’t able to or weren’t comfortable attending an in-person event.
  • Pay more attention to environmental sustainability when planning and executing events. Continue to make full use of virtual and hybrid events as they typically have lower environmental impacts.

To see the full American Express survey report, click here.