ARLINGTON, Va. — For the first time since the pandemic, the number of monthly meetings and events in November exceeded that of 2019, according to the November U.S. monthly meetings and events data from Knowland, a provider of data-as-a-service insights on meetings and events for the hospitality industry. The increase in the number of events last month is a positive sign that the exhibition industry will continue its strong recovery into 2023.
In November 2022, event volume reached 103.1% of November 2019 volume, and there was an increase over 2019 in the number of attendees per event as well. Knowland also found in its data that November 2022 had 122.5% growth of November 2021.
While the number of attendees per event did increase in November, the events industry hasn’t seen attendance exceeding pre-pandemic numbers across the board. Attendance at larger events is still down from 2019 numbers on the whole, but the quality of attendees is on the rise.
“Exhibitors will see more quality attendees and get better one-on-one time with them. It’s the people who can make the executive decisions attending, and from an ROI perspective that works out for them even though there’s less people attending,” Knowland Chief Product Officer Kristi White said.
The report also revealed that the corporate meetings segment continues to dominate, representing 53.5% of meetings and events business in November, with healthcare being the largest industry segment. Associations made up 12% of business last month.
Looking to 2023
The rebound for the meetings and events industry is strong, but not without its challenges, according to Knowland and ConferenceDirect’s collaborative 2023 State of the Meetings Industry survey, which was released Dec. 19. The survey found that more than 70% of events in 2022 had attendance at or above 80% of 2019 numbers, which aligns with the data from its monthly report in November of attendance being on the rise as well as the number of events.
However, offsetting the upward trajectory of the industry is rising costs and staff shortages. Knowland reports that rising costs of up to 50% are causing organizers to rethink event strategies and goals, including profitability. Survey respondents ranked rising costs as their number one concern going into 2023, and organizers are looking to new destinations for their events as a result.
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Some key trends the survey found going into 2023 are using technology to enhance the experience of attendees, focusing on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), and meetings and events being a more casual atmosphere.
“Organizers are going to have to plan better events because during COVID people decided they weren’t going to attend every event as before. Organizers will want to use technology to get people more engaged. We need to find more ways to humanize events, to make people want to get on that plane to attend,” White said.
With COVID no longer being organizers’ top concern, Knowland forecasts that costs will level, business travel will return and budget increases will support the industry as it continues reaching pre-pandemic levels for most, if not all, metrics. “The rise in the number of events will keep up, but the number of attendees will begin to stabilize,” White said.
“Recovery capture has been increasing since the beginning of summer, but this is the first time we exceeded 2019 levels,” White said. “The message is clear—recovery is here.”
Reach Kristi White at (571) 429-5859 or email@example.com