Event Outlook for Associations

Events are alive and well, says a new survey of event producers, convention center executives, and attendees—though you can expect some changes and challenges ahead. The survey reveals key insights that can help you leverage opportunities and minimize difficulties as your prepare for your association’s next in-person event.

Overall Outlook

The big picture looks good. Overall, the event industry rebound has been better than expected, with 83% of convention center executives saying the pace of recovery has exceeded their expectations. Remarkably, 0% of execs surveyed said recovery has been worse than anticipated. On another positive note, more than 40% of event producers surveyed plan to launch completely new in-person events in the next two years.

Attendance is Up

Event attendance has been rebounding over the last few years. For example, attendance in Q2 of 2023 was 85% of 2019 numbers, and attendance in 2024 is expected to reach “full recovery.” If your event date is fast approaching, you could still see a late surge in registrations. Nearly 75% of event producers surveyed say attendees are registering closer to event dates.

Costs Are Also Up

Expect to pay more. A whopping 70% of convention center executives say they increased pricing for venue services, and nearly half hiked rates for exhibit halls and major event spaces. As consolation, you can expect improvements in venues’ safety and security, technology, signage, and services.

Hotel Woes

Be aware of hotel issues that could affect your members’ event experience. These include high room rates, staffing issues, lack of quality, and overcrowding. Coincidentally, the number of attendees who book short-term rentals and AirBnBs is on the rise.

Hybrid Work

Teleworking doesn’t necessarily indicate a lack of interest in in-person gatherings. Some data suggests companies could use your event to bring dispersed teams together. Additionally, nearly half of convention attendees say they are more likely to travel with a friend or family member. Half are also likely to extend time in the host city for vacation.

Cautious Optimism

While the overall event outlook is positive, keep in mind that every event, sector, and organization is different. Expect to struggle with issues like inflation, sustainability, political and social activism, the labor shortage, technology, and more. But forge ahead knowing your event is still a powerful place for connection, collaboration, and learning that can make a difference for your members and their constituents. 

Rottman Creative can help you find and leverage your day-stoppers to engage more members and prospects.

Source: “Event Producer, Convention Center management, & Attendance Outlook Studies 2023” from Access Intelligence Research & Consulting

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