The companies of the world have quickly adjusted their meetings and events programs to the requirements of a year full of uncertainties in order to maintain contact with customers, potential customers and employees.
This is shown by the Global Meetings & Events 2021 forecast conducted by American Express Meetings & Events, a division of American Express Global Business Travel.
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Hygiene Concepts and Technologies
Although the learning curve has been steep, conference planners for face-to-face meetings have quickly adopted comprehensive hygiene and security concepts and made greater use of existing technologies for virtual, hybrid and physical formats.
Online conferencing platforms are showing both their advantages and their limitations, with planners looking for new ideas and strategies to combat the tedium of virtual meetings.
However, everything has its price. The participants of the survey stated that 35% of virtual and hybrid events require the professional support of a full-service agency. Since travel volumes will probably develop differently from region to region in 2021, hybrid meetings will play the role of pioneers for physical meetings.
What other challenges were common with regards to virtual meetings? 40% of respondents claimed that lack of experience was a factor to count with, while 32% mentioned technical issues and 18% mentioned lack of engagement.
“The value that global companies continue to place on meetings and events is evident in the speed with which they have transitioned from physical to virtual formats,” said Gerardo Tejado, senior vice president and general manager of American Express Meetings & Events.
“The message of the Global Meetings and Events 2021 forecast is clear: there must be meetings. There is a great interest in having physical meetings again as soon as it can be safely done. Hybrid meetings will be the catalyst,” he added.
What to Expect in 2021
In 2021, planners will have to balance the pent-up demand for physical events with budget cuts and shifts. Since flight and hotel tariffs are still somewhat in flow, there are still reservations about early bookings.
Other issues are mainly concerned with safety and security. 68% of respondents claimed that confidence in attendee health and safety components are important for them with regards to holding physical events. 59% mentioned the importance of flexible cancellation and attrition terms.
With regards to the location choice, 77% stressed the importance of accommodating the needs of social distancing. 52% of respondents noted that disinfection protocols are a key factor for them.