Meetings Market Survey 2023: ‘The Work Has Gotten Very Difficult’

Respondents to our Meetings Market Survey — which we brought back after a COVID-induced break — shared that the post-COVID business environment brings a host of challenges that have yet to work themselves out. And they are feeling simultaneously anxious and excited about the future of the business events industry.

Authors: Magdalina Atanassova       
Michelle Russell       

The last time we conducted the Meetings Market Survey — the results of which had been published every year, without fail, in Convene for 29 years — it was November 2019, and in the public mind, the pandemic referred to early-20th-century influenza, not the global health crisis we were on the brink of experiencing.

When we brought back the Meetings Market Survey this summer, we knew the questions couldn’t be cut-and-pasted from previous years, but had to reflect new realities, including the rise of virtual events as a result of pandemic shutdowns, the explosive growth of generative AI, the worsening climate crisis, higher expenses, and staffing shortages that linger from pandemic-induced layoffs, to name a few.

So, unlike in previous survey analyses, there isn’t much point in comparing this year’s survey results to those of the previous one. Not only do the questions differ, but COVID divided history and changed society, making such comparisons less relevant.

Still, a look back at the survey results we published in early 2020 yields some interesting insights. While many planners pivoted for the first time to digital events during COVID, three out of 10 respondents in late 2019 said they had featured a virtual/hybrid element at their largest event, which at the time represented an 11-percent increase over the previous year — so we were already starting to see hybrid and virtual events take a larger role in the business of events.

As far as how social media has evolved, nearly half say they are more active on social media in their roles than pre-pandemic. Facebook and Twitter, now called X, were planners’ top channels to engage audiences in 2019; this year, LinkedIn is the clear favorite, followed by Instagram.

And in a win for the planet, three out of five planners say they are more intentional about designing events with sustainability initiatives than before the pandemic. Further evidence of this shift: Only 14 percent of planners in 2019 said they included sustainability elements in their RFPs; 31 percent do so today.

There’s lots to unpack here. In addition to the data, you’ll find insightful quotes throughout — responses from participants to open-ended questions. You’ll find all the survey results by clicking the button below.

More From our Research

The Meetings Market Survey appears in the November 2023 issue of Convene and is part of our annual Events Industry Forecast, Find more stories from the issue below:


Magdalina Atanassova is digital media editor and Michelle Russell is editor in chief of Convene.

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