Meetings Industry Insights May 2023

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Glen Ellwood

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As we round out the Spring 2023 conference season with stories of many great experiences (and a few not-so-great) we are reminded that a few key pain points remain “post COVID” in the meetings and hospitality industry. Among those are staff shortages, supply chain delays, reduced service levels, and high costs. In the same breath we—as association meeting leaders—are looking at a very real transformation in the industry where “experience-first events” are becoming the norm.

AMR clients hosted 18 in-person meetings, conferences, and events from February to May, 2023, and our experience reflected these industry-wide trends. The tension between designing an experience rather than planning an event and the slow pace of recovery in the hospitality industry is our work-at-hand.

Greg Bogue, Chief Experience Architect at Maritz Design, puts it this way, “We used to be able to embrace the idea that if we build it, they will come. Now, as event designers, we must think of this with a different lens, with attendees now feeling, ‘If they build it for me, I will come.’”

What is the expectation of participants when it comes to an event experience? There is a renewed fervor in the sustainability of events and travel, continued evolution of diversity, equity, and inclusion as foundational elements of associations, and now a hard look at what artificial intelligence (AI) can offer in our meetings. “If they are building it for me, AI is going to tell them how I feel about the experience and content, right?”

We know data drives great events, and a new data set is being established, called Return on Events or Return on Experience (ROX). In a nutshell, ROX is focused on measuring the lasting effects of an event—whether it be a personal, social, economic, or organizational impacts.

Lessons Learned and Helpful Reminders

How should we now look to the rest of 2023 for our conference planning and execution? What lessons have we learned from our recent events? Here are a few helpful reminders.

The meetings and hospitality industry is still in recovery, but service levels have increased significantly from one year ago. Celebrate that progress!

  1. The desire to meet in person is stronger than ever —that desire is rooted in experiences, rather than content, and the most successful events place this at the forefront.

  2. We have seen, in some instances, what we don’t want to have happen. The knowledge that we can’t make any assumptions about service or expectations, means we must build a more robust question-based approach to working with venues, vendors, and our attendees.

  3. There are great people resources available within AMR teams, client leadership and meetings with industry partners. Build relationships that foster learning, sharing, and partnerships in all areas of our work.

We can certainly become overwhelmed with the shifts in the industry, changing expectations, and limited resources. We can also take up the challenge of creating experiences that will have adult learners saying, “I will come!”


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.

Cropped Photo of Glen Ellwood
Glen Ellwood
Assistant Director of Education & Events

Degrees and Credentials
Master of Divinity, Certified Meeting Professional (CMP), LES

Association Management Professional Since:
2011

What inspires you about your work?
The opportunity to be part of a creative team that has as their goal the creation of the very best conference experience for association members. To be part of a team that wants to lead and influence the meetings industry as thoughtleaders. To continue to show AMR clients that they have made the very best decision in securing our team to manage their association.

All Posts By Glen Ellwood