While the hospitality industry is anticipating growth in 2024, economists are cautioning about the back half of the year for the U.S., keeping CEOs on their toes about what is to come.
The Group Customer Pulse
The results from the Q4 2023 Encore Planner Pulse survey show that 47% of meeting professionals are increasing budgets for 2024 and 40% expect to remain flat. This is a similar outlook to what we heard in early 2023 and illustrates a baseline understanding that the cost of doing business has increased and therefore budgets must increase.
When asked if forced to cut budgets, top areas included décor, entertainment, and off-site excursions. As a hospitality professional, that gives me a sense of relief that our group customers feel the value that the hotel, food & beverage and event technology experiences deliver to the success of their event.
But here’s where we still have our work cut out for us: When asked what areas they are most challenged by their stakeholders to defend their spend, both event technology and food & beverage rank in the top five areas of concern.
What we take away from that is that the path to continued growth will require us to innovate and effectively communicate the value of the total event experience to an organization, with event technology and food and beverage as priority components.
Insights For the Future
In 2023, Encore embarked on a journey with a leading research firm to conduct qualitative research across business leaders and influencers around the globe, as well as in-depth quantitative research among event professionals. What we’ve learned: the shifting cultural values of our time that we’ve all felt, seen, and read about in the news over the last two years are quickly actualizing.
That shifting culture should impact how we serve our teams and our customers in 2024 and beyond.
Insight #1: There’s increased interest in the individual, societal, organizational, and cultural impact of events.
Reasons to believe:
- 74% of global adults believe businesses have a responsibility to make society fairer
- 39% report that ‘being memorable’ is the second most important thing in events
Business implication: There’s opportunity to cater to the value system of the attendees by innovating aspects of sustainability and DEIB throughout the F&B and event technology experience to incrementally deliver a “return on emotion” that makes events more memorable. Delivering ROI and ROE arms our customers with more data to support their business case for meetings.
Insight #2: Emerging tools for AR, AI and virtual experiences will remain buzz-worthy and begin to see more adoption, but human connection remains a top value.
Reasons to believe:
- 32% of global adults believe “connecting with others” is a top three priority for events, behind “being memorable”
- 69% believe “humanness”— seeking to connect with real people — is an extremely or very important personal value
Business implication: While the value system that in-person, real-life connection is paramount, it will inevitably need supplementation from technology to deliver the wow factor, personalization and immersive qualities that have taken hold in the zeitgeist. Innovations in event technology and production are a vital part of total revenue growth and the customer experience.
Insight #3: A sense of belonging is non-negotiable at events.
Reason to believe: 52% of global adults believe belonging is an extremely or very important personal value
Business implication: We should evaluate how we are training our teams to continue to elevate personalized, empathetic service and exceed customer expectations in every facet of the event experience. Encore has taken a page from our esteemed hospitality partners and spent the last year entrenched in training for customer experience with unmistakable improvements, most notably marked by being named as the Official Event Solutions Partner to Forbes Travel Guide. Much like how Sage Hospitality continues to cultivate new and exciting experiences within the walls of their properties and the communities in which they reside. In 2024, we see the opportunity for all organizations, including ours, to elevate CX through the marriage of smart internal technology and strong cultures of belonging that will make our teams’ workdays more effective, fulfilling, and connected to our greater purpose to serve our customers and our communities.
Key Questions to Ask Your Management Team:
- How invested is the hotel in training for the next year?
- How invested are your key partners to deliver the service that matches your brand promise?
When looking to maximize event trends to drive incremental revenue, the path can seem daunting to owners, management companies, and the venues themselves. Knowing the end-user customers, keeping your hand on the pulse of the industry and ensuring you have the right partners can ensure a smooth journey toward enhancing revenue streams, providing value, improving overall client satisfaction.
Key findings from the Encore 2022 Winter Planner Pulse
With the world of events ever-changing, staying up-to-date on the latest industry trends is an essential tool for crafting successful experiences. To help ensure your event design, programming and format resonates with today’s audiences, Encore surveys meeting and event professionals quarterly to capture a closer look into today’s event landscape and to maintain a pulse on where meeting event needs are heading.
Read on to learn key insights from our latest survey.
Human connection and engagement are the most impactful values for in-person events
In-person events will continue to increase with each new quarter
Most planners expect their audience numbers to grow this year
This data brings a welcome implication — people are actively interested in physically attending conferences, meetings and other events, making now the perfect time for you to invest more resources into their event design. Get ahead of the curve by ensuring you have the best solutions to deliver successful outcomes.
Six of 10 planners will see budget increases — driven by food and beverage, room rates and transportation costs
DE&I is an important ESG area of focus
Environmental, social and governance (ESG) objectives remain an opportunity in 2023. We asked planners about four major ESG issues to collect feedback on the role they play in event planning. Those issues were: Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I), environmental sustainability, social responsibility, and local legislation that aligns with organizational values.
Our findings? Approximately half of event professionals (55 percent) view DE&I as the most important ESG area to consider while selecting venues. This research speaks volumes about how event professionals now prioritize DE&I when making critical event planning decisions.
When it comes to selecting a venue, event professionals regard the other ESG attributes in the following order of importance:
- Local legislation that is aligned with organization values (45 percent)
- Environmental sustainability (45 percent)
- Social responsibility (42 percent)
In terms of choosing an AV/event technology partner, event professionals prioritize the following attributes behind DE&I:
- Environmental sustainability (40 percent)
- Local legislation that is aligned with organization values (39 percent)
- Social responsibility (35 percent)
Insights-led meeting planning for more engaging experiences
Interested in personalized solutions that can help optimize your next event? Request a free consultation with our event experts! We’d love to discuss your specific needs and help you develop a transformative experience that achieves your event goals.