Meetings Industry Insights – August 2023

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Molly Marsh Cropped Photo

Molly Marsh

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The headline of the most recent Meeting Professionals International Meetings Outlook articulates what most in the industry have been feeling: Cost Increases Continue to Outpace Budgets, Present Challenges. But it’s not all bad news! The drive for attendance is back for most organizations, with over 80% of planners reporting and projecting continued in-person attendance growth. The ongoing challenge for associations is how to maintain this energy and momentum with participants – how to build conferences, meetings, and educational events that members want to come to without increasing the costs so significantly that they are out of reach.

Clarity, creativity, and communication are always important, but are essential for success of association meetings in the current climate. Organizations must be clear on their goals and priorities; when “having it all” is not financially feasible, knowing what is most important helps drive decision-making. Groups may also have to get creative with aspects of their events to adjust to increased costs. Whether it’s scaling back the number of concurrent session rooms to eliminate AV, or shifting an awards gala dinner to lunch, changing up some of the event can help reduce the impact of inflation. And, finally, regular and consistent communication with partners at all levels – the volunteers, hotels, production partners, sponsors – is a must. The expectations may need to be set differently than pre-COVID events and the only way to do that is through proactive communication.  

Other key trends and important issues on the radar for Fall:

  • Enhanced Site Selection and Contracting – One way to control the increasing costs is to include better pricing negotiation in contracting and the site selection process. New steps incorporated into the AMR core process shift these discussions with potential partners so that they happen earlier and more frequently in the event planning life cycle. By engaging in these discussions right from the start of the relationship, we’re better able to plan for the real costs for each event and identify the hotel or venue partners that are willing to work with us to ensure a mutually successful experience.  

  • COVID, Cold and Flu SeasonCOVID cases are rising as new variants emerge and many doctors are concerned flu season may again start early and be significant. It is important to discusses these needs going into fall events and consider additional messaging around masking, expectations for non-attendance for those who are ill, and/or reminders of good hygiene practices.

  • Sustainability – Placing an emphasis on the reduction of food waste is good for the planet and good for the bottom line! AMR clients with fall meetings will each see 1-2 food waste reduction strategies implemented this year, ranging from more specific orders for the attendance numbers, to one-on-one communications with those with special dietary needs, to donating excess food.

  • Political and Social Factors – Associations and other mission-driven organizations continue to struggle with whether or not to hold their meetings in locations (states/cities) that have passed legislation that is not consistent with the values of the organization. The debate is a difficult one, and for associations with contracts already in place, the financial penalties for cancelling the contract and moving locations are often so high that there is really no choice but to proceed with the venue as planned. Many groups are turning to solutions like Social Offset to invest in organizations that are doing work to address the political situation or heal social divides in the community.


About AMR Management Services

Through their knowledge of the latest trends and emerging practices, the Education & Events experts at AMR Management Services can help your association or professional society create event experiences with lasting impact. Contact AMR today to learn more about how we can help you take your next association conference to the next level.

Photo by Elena Mozhvilo on Unsplash 

Molly Marsh Cropped Photo
Molly Marsh

Degrees and Credentials:
Certified Meeting Professional (CMP); Bachelor of Arts, Transylvania University

Association Management Professional Since:
2007

What inspires you about your work?
I have a passion for the world of professional associations and the essential support, resources and connections they provide for members. I am an adult learning and meeting design nerd –I am continually inspired by the chance to design face-to-face meetings and innovate content strategy with new techniques, technologies and ideas.

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