IACC Barometer: 2023 Will Be First Year Business Events Revenue Surpasses 2019

April 29, 2022

The 2022 survey for the Meeting Room of the Future Barometer, conducted by the International Association of Conference Centers (IACC), is pointing toward continued growth as the industry recovers after the pandemic.

Respondents globally reported that 2023 would be the first year to surpass 2019 meetings and business events revenue levels. Predictions did differ slightly by country with projected revenues in Denmark to surpass 2019 levels as early as 2022 while the Americas had a slightly longer outlook with revenues not returning to pre-pandemic levels until 2024.

Two-thirds of responding venues said they will recover to 2019 meeting revenue levels in 2022 or 2023, with Danish and Australian venues predicting the fastest recovery.

The study, which is financially supported by IACC’s partners Encore Global, Benchmark Hospitality, Flik Hospitality Group/Rapport and Aramark Conferencing, shows that in 2021, average meeting and business events revenue was 45% lower than 2019 levels but in 2022, this percentage is expected to shrink to just 8% below 2019 levels.

Sustainability continues to be an emerging topic, with some improvements made since the 2021 report. The report shows that, in general, there is more of a focus on environmental and social responsibility at venues in Europe and Australia when compared with North American venues. Roughly 46% of respondents to this year’s survey reported that they are receiving increased requests from clients to either state or provide social responsibility and environmental credentials.

“The study clearly points to the fact that recovery is moving forward, and the future looks bright for our industry, with a renewed value placed on face-to-face events,” said Mark Cooper, CEO of IACC. “However, we still face a number of challenges. Recent social and geo-political events have brought into sharp focus the need to focus on sustainability, and the report shows that this is an area where there is significant scope for investment and improvement and which IACC venues must focus on going forward.” 

One sustainable practice where venues have shown considerable improvement since 2020 is donating unused food to local community outreach programs. More than one-half of responding venues reported this option compared with only 23% of venues in 2020, and North American venues reported a greater likelihood of offering healthy food options and the ability to donate unused foods than other regions.

The study further supports the gradual return to in-person events. In 2021, 30% of respondents reported that more than 90% of their live meetings and events also offered virtual access. In 2022, the percentage dropped to 19%. This is corroborated by IACC’s report, The Future of the Meeting Industry, from February 2022, which showed that the value of human interaction is ranked the highest of seven factors when considering attending an in-person meeting, above scheduling and cost of attending. Collaboration with colleagues is also highly ranked.

Talent shortages across industries have been dominating headlines, and while the meetings industry is not immune to the challenges of attracting and retaining workers, operators are showing optimism that they will be able to find employees to keep their venues running successfully. The study predicts that talent shortages will be alleviated over time, and overall, respondents do not anticipate that workforce shortages will negatively impact their ability to meet client and attendee needs. As 2022 unfolds, 55% of respondents reported that their venue has or will return to full-staffing levels by the end of 2022.

“As we continue to rebuild, IACC is committed to continuing to educate our industry and to providing insights and resources to help venues adapt and ensure they are providing facilities and services that truly cater for event planners needs,” Cooper said. “I wish to thank our industry partners SHFM, Cvent, MPI and Events Industry Council, for sharing their data, and IACC gives appreciation to our sponsoring research partner, Development Counsellors International.”

The survey ran over a three-week period in March 2022, with 87 venue operators from three continents (Americas, Europe and Australia) taking part in the research study.

To download the full report please visit the IACC Meeting Room of the Future website. 

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