This year has brought fresh challenges and opportunities for the events industry. We have observed a growing awareness around sustainability, diversity and inclusion, as well as a focus on creating valuable in-person experiences after two years of disruption.
We've had our ear to the ground and have been taking part in many conversations across the industry to understand where we've been, where we are and where we're going. In this piece, we'll share with you all the exciting trends that we expect to see lead the market into 2023 and beyond. From accessibility to event technology, here are our top predictions for corporate events in 2023!
Our Top 7 Trends
1. Continued drive on sustainability
2. Experience-first events
3. Event technology will continue to advance drastically
4. A drive in accessibility and inclusion across the industry
5. In-person events will dominate the market
6. Renewed focus on health and wellness
7. Tighter budgets will require a more strategic approach to event programmes
Continued drive on sustainability
This year has seen the climate crisis and sustainability soar to the top of the agenda for the events industry, with venues, suppliers and organisers all reviewing their processes and trying to become more environmentally friendly. No longer just a 'nice to have', the industry is making huge leaps towards making events sustainable for their clients and this will continue to be a huge driver into 2023.
It's no easy feat, though. The annual ICE report launched at Cvent CONNECT Europe found that 59% of respondents believe sustainability remains a key challenge for events businesses going into 2023. Furthermore, according to GBTA’s June 2022 Sustainability Report, 90% of organisations said they required professional guidance in their sustainability journey.
However, as Mark Bannister, Technical Director of COP26, shared with us at his talk at EventLAB, there are so many small things that we can all do as event organisers to reduce the impact events have on our planet. From plant-based menus to making venues more sustainable, there's plenty to be done.
“For venues, if you’re not sure where to start with sustainability, start with your staff. Make sure you’re empowering the people in your team to make the decisions that matter.” - Kate Simpson, Business Design Centre
Need some guidance on making your businesses and events more sustainable? We've put together a whole content hub with practical tips and advice, from the best sustainability tools for eventprofs to how businesses can set measurable objectives around sustainability for their events.
After two years of lockdowns, now more than ever there is going to be a huge focus on creating the best possible experiences for attendees, which in return offer clients tangible ROI and lead generation opportunities. Immersive, experiential events, pop-ups, brand activations, holding events in the Metaverse and the use of social media have all developed as unique methods of attendee engagement. And as we know, engagement is a hugely important metric - according to Markletic, 49% of marketers even said it was the single biggest contributing factor to event success.
We have also seen a rise in searches on Hire Space for unusual venues, such as Frameless, Arcelormittal Orbit, or the Cutty Sark. The fact that these more unique venues are rising in popularity shows again that organisers are thinking outside the box to find new and inventive ways to engage their attendees and bring them along on their brand's journey.
Hire Space Top Tip:
Try to turn every moment into an experience. You could add elements such as VR games, a digital social media wall, or even a unique catering experience. Event technology is constantly evolving, so use it to your advantage.
Want more inspiration?
Check out our piece 'The Experiential Imperative: An Integrated Approach To Events As A Core Marketing Channel' for more insights!
If you're struggling for ideas on how to take your events to the next level, draft in the experts! Our experienced team will be happy to help, so get in touch.
Event technology will continue to advance drastically
We couldn't not include event technology as a major trend for 2023. The Metaverse, although it has far to go towards being accessible en masse for event organisers, is one tool that we predict we'll be seeing a lot more of next year. Plus, with the advancements of AI, AR and VR in recent years, event organisers are able now more than ever to create other-worldly, personalised experiences for their attendees. In fact, the AR and VR industry is forecasted to grow by over 25% over the next two years, according to Marketing Insider Group.
Virtual event technology has also come a long way and is likely to continue advancing in 2023. Platforms such as Arena, Cadence and Brella offer a whole host of features to help bring content to life for virtual audiences, from audience engagement tools to data collection.
Whilst we believe in-person events will be the primary focus next year, we also recognise that as flight costs soar and the cost of living crisis tightens travel budgets for many businesses, virtual and hybrid events will continue to be a huge part of delivering content to audiences globally. Unsurprisingly, a study by MPI on Bizbash.com found that 70% of respondents feel that hybrid events will be important to the future of the events industry. Due to this, virtual and hybrid event technology will need to be constantly improved and updated to cater to changing demands. We've had a few years' practice at going virtual now, so the technology needs to be at the top of its game to really be of value to organisers.
This year's ICE report found that 41% of respondents said that solely in-person experiences don’t provide the insights they need (compared to solely virtual events), so data collection technology will really need to step up even further to provide richer data if in-person (or hybrid) events are to be the primary focus.
“The fact that so many industry professionals are struggling to gather the right data from their in-person events is a concern – especially given how many respondents highlighted the incredible value they place on data.
Through a more focused approach and the use of integrated technology solutions, planners can better support data capture to deliver robust reporting with powerful insights.” Anita Howard, CEO and Founder of ICE
We've put together an in-depth piece on how event technology is evolving, so be sure to check that out for more inspiration on how you can apply evolving technology to your brand to create outstanding events.
A drive in accessibility and inclusion across the industry
This year we have observed a higher priority placed on ensuring events are accessible and inclusive to all individuals, which will continue into 2023 and beyond. This is reflected in the AMEX Global Event Trends Forecast, where 87% of respondents said their organisations actively strive to incorporate DE&I into their meetings and events.
“For organisations to maximise return on investment including attendance, they need to be inclusive and have a clear charter in terms of diversity. It is one of the key criteria that meeting owners and delegates will consider in the future – if they’re not already today.” Patrick Rush, Senior Regional Director of Asia Pacific, American Express Meetings & Events
It is therefore clearly essential that planners have the tools and knowledge to be able to deliver events that offer the same opportunities to everyone, no matter the different needs they may have.
To learn more, we recently spoke with Isaac Harvey, content creator and disability awareness advocate on how we can all help make the events industry more inclusive. Whether it's avoiding unconscious bias in the speaker selection process, ensuring your chosen venue is truly accessible, or being hyper aware of the language used in communications, there are so many areas we can improve on to facilitate better experiences for everyone.
As well as inclusive events, we also predict there will be much more of a focus in ensuring recruitment processes offer equal opportunities to all, and that there is diverse representation across businesses and events teams.
"There isn't an end destination with accessibility. It's a journey, realising we're always going to be learning, making mistakes, and getting better." Isaac Harvey
In-person events will dominate the market
As we've mentioned, whilst we do predict some virtual events in 2023, we believe in-person events will still be the preferred option for many businesses. According to Meeting & Group Business magazine, the in-person events market is set for its "strongest year ever" in 2023, and the 2023 AMEX Global Event Trends Forecast reported "booming optimism and focus on in-person meetings and events".
That said, we predict that hybrid events will still continue in some form, especially as events with a virtual option can increase brand reach significantly and allow international attendees to avoid the hefty travel costs we're seeing in the current economic climate.
We have also seen many venues become hybrid-ready over this past year for this very reason. Having spoken to many of our London-based hybrid venues, it appears the market's appetite for meeting in person (with the option of tuning in virtually) has been insatiable this year, which is continuing to be the case for Q1 next year too.
It seems most people would still prefer to attend physically though. According to Markletic, 72% of respondents said they'd get more value out of attending a hybrid event in-person. In addition, 78% of marketers surveyed by LinkedIn reported that they want in-person events to return to a primary role, even if these events leverage virtual elements in some capacity.
All in all, it's clear that the demand for coming together in-person where possible is higher than ever, and this will only continue to grow, especially as event spend is set to rise by 83% in 2023.
Renewed focus on health and wellness
After a tough few years, there has been a huge shift this year on improving employee wellbeing, as well as improving the wellbeing of our delegates at events.
We predict that packed-out event agendas will be a thing of the past, and instead there will be more breaks scheduled as well as a renewed focus on healthy food that fuels attendees' energy levels during the event. Wallacespace is one example of a venue that focuses on providing delicious and nutritious brain food for their attendees. We think there will also be a big focus on team building activities, and bringing teams together to inspire, motivate and energise employees.
We have also observed that the demand for employee benefits that supports wellbeing, such as access to counselling, more days off, flexible working, and healthcare packages, has gone through the roof. The Great Resignation has meant that employees demand more from their employers, and as a result, businesses need to keep up with providing benefits that people really want and need. Companies like Life Wellbeing and Be In Your Element provide tailored wellbeing experiences for businesses that can take place at events to uplift guests.
Another example of how businesses can look after their employees is the use of co-working spaces. With many companies still largely remote, providing staff with valuable face time and the chance to spend time in person has become a big trend, one which is likely to continue into 2023. For example, Hire Space uses the coworking space Work.Life, which not only increases our productivity, but provides us with the opportunity to spend time with each other and enjoy time as a team. We also enjoy monthly team lunches, fortnightly virtual and in-person socials, and even an annual Hire Space retreat, which helps us to bond and incentivises the team.
Tighter budgets will require a more strategic approach to event programmes
Despite the fact that event spend is set to rise by 83%, it's no secret that thanks to the cost of living crisis, budgets will go under the microscope in 2023. In fact, it is estimated that the average cost per attendee will be 32% higher compared to 2019 levels. When it comes to venue pricing, a strategic approach is crucial:
"Pricing is going to be the key metric in 2023. Prices are going up a lot, so financial discipline will be crucial next year: there will be no shortage of enquiries and demand, but the question is whether venues and operators will be able to be profitable. They will likely need to put their prices up, but if they put them up too much they could risk losing business. Turnover is vanity, profit is sanity!" Peter Heath, Founder & MD, Venue Performance
When it comes to making a case for events to stakeholders, businesses will need to ensure their events are aligned with their company objectives. It will become more important than ever to prove genuine ROI from events as cost vs return remains a large concern for the sector. Read our piece on corporate events amidst the cost of living crisis for more insights from the industry.
Hire Space Top Tip:
If you need some help with developing a bespoke events programme for 2023 that aligns with your company goals and generates tangible ROI, Hire Space 360 is your one stop shop. We'll take care of everything, including consolidated billing, digitised contracting, venue and supplier sourcing, and full-service event management, so get in touch to chat to our experts today.
We believe these trends will continue to drive our thriving industry and we're feeling optimistic about the future. And it's not just us: according to the 2023 AMEX Global Event Trends Forecast, 75% of event professionals rated their optimisim levels at 8 or higher on a scale of 1 to 10, which is an increase from last year (59%). It's reassuring to see we're heading in the right direction following a tough few years.
We'd love to hear your thoughts on other top trends and predictions you may have for next year. Be sure to follow us on social media to stay part of the conversation as we wrap up 2022 and head into the new year as a more cohesive and inclusive industry together.
If you need help with your events programmes or you have a particular event brief you'd like to start working on, get in touch below.