Two-thirds of venues say they will recover to 2019 meeting revenue levels in 2022 or 2023, with Danish and Australian venues predicting the fastest recovery, according to IACC’s annual Meeting Room of the Future Barometer 2022, which was released today.

Respondents globally reported that 2023 would be the first year to surpass 2019 meetings and business events revenue levels. Predictions did differ slightly by country with projected revenues in Denmark to surpass 2019 levels as early as 2022 while the Americas had a slightly longer outlook with revenues not returning to pre-pandemic levels until 2024.

The study, which is financially supported by IACC’s partners Encore Global, Benchmark Hospitality, Flik Hospitality Group/Rapport and Aramark Conferencing, shows that in 2021, average meeting and business events revenue was 45% lower than 2019 levels but in 2022, this percentage is expected to shrink to just 8% below 2019 levels.

Sustainability continues to be an emerging topic, with some improvements made since the 2021 report. The report shows that, in general, there is more of a focus on environmental and social responsibility at venues in Europe and Australia when compared with North American venues. 46% of respondents to this year’s survey reported that they are receiving increased requests from clients to either state or provide social responsibility and environmental credentials.

There is one sustainable practice where venues have shown considerable improvement since 2020, and that is the ability to donate unused food to local community outreach programmes. More than one-half of responding venues report this option compared with only 23% of venues in 2020, and North American venues reporting a greater likelihood of offering healthy food options and the ability to donate unused foods than other regions.

The study further supports the gradual return to meetings weighted towards more in-person interactions. In 2021, 30% of respondents reported that more than 90% of their live meetings and events also offered virtual access. In 2022 this percentage has dropped to 19%. This is corroborated by IACC’s report, The Future of the Meeting Industry, from February 2022, which showed that the value of human interaction is ranked the highest of seven factors when considering attending an in-person meeting, above expanding your network, scheduling and cost of attending. Collaboration with colleagues is also highly ranked.

Talent shortages across industries have been dominating headlines and while the meetings industry is not immune to the challenges of attracting and retaining workers, operators are showing optimism that they will be able to find employees to keep their venues running successfully. The study predicts that talent shortages will be alleviated over time, and overall, respondents do not anticipate that workforce shortages will negatively impact their ability to meet client and attendee needs. As 2022 unfolds, 55% of respondents reported that their venue has or will return to full-staffing levels by the end of 2022.

Mark Cooper, CEO of IACC commented: “The study clearly points to the fact that recovery is moving forward, and the future looks bright for our industry, with a renewed value placed on face-to-face events. However, we still face a number of challenges. Recent social and geo-political events have brought into sharp focus the need to focus on sustainability and the report shows that this is an area where there is significant scope for investment and improvement and which IACC venues must focus on going forward.

As we continue to rebuild, IACC is committed to continuing to educate our industry and to providing insights and resources to help venues adapt and ensure they are providing facilities and services that truly cater for event planners needs. I wish to thank our industry partners SHFM, Cvent, MPI and Events Industry Council, for sharing their data and IACC gives appreciation to our sponsoring research partner, Development Counsellors International”.

The survey ran over a three-week period in March 2022 with 87 venue operators from three continents (Americas, Europe and Australia) taking part in the research study.

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