Updated: Jan 31, 2022
To say that the past 20 months have proved challenging for the MICE industry is an understatement but it looks like we may have reached the top of the hill - which feels more like a mountain!
According to industry experts and various surveys published over the past few months, it appears that 2022 is the year of recovery, and whilst there is still a way to go, we have much to think about and look forward to.
Thanks to the progress made by the vaccine globally, combined with the ease of international travel restrictions, the industry has witnessed a substantial increase in live meetings, even though virtual and hybrid are here to stay. According to a survey conducted by American Express Meetings & Events, 67% of their panel of industry stakeholders are expecting a return to pre-pandemic levels within one to two years for live events. More encouraging still, about 80% of events taking place this year are expected to have at least one element of in-person attendance.
Leading the pack with newfound optimism, 74% of MICE professionals in North America report a level of optimism as 8 or higher on a scale of 1 to 10. Meanwhile, nearly 60% of the European MICE industry is recording the same level of optimism with 48% of events expected to be exclusively in-person in 2022, the second-highest behind the North American region. And although European respondents forecast a slower recovery than other regions, 86% are confident that in-person attendance will return to pre-pandemic levels within five years. In the UK, domestic events are still going strong however, international travel is expected to make its big return in 2022 with European destinations including Portugal, Italy, Spain, and France as well as the USA as firm favourites.
The survey also shows that 64% of global MICE professionals report increased budgets in 2022. The growth is partially driven by issues with global supply chains and rising energy bills pushing costs up, however, the emergence of remote work has also led to a bigger appetite for work-based holidays with increased longer stays, increased demand for work-related, wellness and childcare facilities as well as more flexible cancellation policies. If wishes for a more sustainable approach in the MICE industry emerged from the pandemic, sustainability, diversity and inclusivity have since then also become a driving force in conversion and decision making.
These new travel requirements combined with higher costs and significantly shorter lead times will no doubt put many MICE agencies through their paces as clients will not only ask for more, but as international travel opens up, they will also demand expert guidance on local health and safety protocols and wellness options to ensure the safety of their staff and delegates.
Relationships between MICE professionals and their suppliers have never before been more key. The pandemic has led the way MICE professionals look at their local partners. Full reviews are being conducted across all markets as planners are looking to re-evaluate their partnerships. Seeking out where they can consolidate and work with trusted suppliers who will not only meet their needs but deliver top-quality service and embrace their corporate social responsibility and sustainability objectives.
Since its creation in 1988, Representation Plus has been instrumental in developing these relationships between MICE professionals in the UK and global suppliers. Over the years the company has represented various DMCs and DMC groups as well as major world-class MICE destinations including Greater Miami.
In January 2022, Representation Plus was delighted to be appointed as the first UK sales office for the international DMC group, Hosts Global, a strategic partner for meeting and event planners worldwide, established in 1958. This collection of 24, multi-office, DMC companies across Europe, North America, the Caribbean and Central America, help visionary planners deliver meaningful, memorable, and motivating group experiences in over 250 destinations around the globe. Hosts Global DMCs are known as local experts, weaving creativity and intention into every moment, from event design and production to team building programmes and everything in-between.
As the UK government has greatly reduced travel restrictions from and to the country to a minimum of 1 lateral flow test on return, many destinations are now viable MICE options including the USA, so start sourcing local to take your meeting Global.