Carbon reduction targets and sustainability policies are among the key factors impacting business event strategies and destination choice, alongside company values and travel disruption, according to leading corporate event planners.
Representatives from Linklaters, Permira, PWC, Expedia and Wood Mackenzie were among the corporate planners who attended The Collective Perspective round table, hosted by The Collective, BCD Meetings & Events last week, which micebook was invited to exclusively cover.
Held at new London meeting and event venue Convene, the roundtable discussion covered the key factors that are affecting event decisions at corporate level, plus supply chain and other challenges.
Most attendees agreed that sustainability policies, and in particular the pressure to reduce carbon emissions, was becoming a key decision factor, with one corporate saying: “As a rule, we are saying to our employees that flying should be your last option, and people will be asked those questions when booking travel for meetings and events.”
Elsewhere, rising supplier costs are putting more pressure on already limited budgets, but with venues experiencing a 20-30% increase in their hard costs, they have no choice but to pass these onto the end client.
Whilst businesses are keen to get back to travel and international events, any decisions must align with their wider company goals and values: “We are conscious of working with destinations or partners that don’t support our values around inclusivity and LGBTQ+ etc and steering clear of them.”
Most activity has switched back to live right now, but this is expected to settle down with more of a mix of virtual and in person events in 2023, and more local and regional activity rather than large global events, which will be held less frequently because of sustainability policies.
Several corporates said they are currently reviewing their overall strategies and event calendars for next year, with one dropping from two global events per year to just one, although that company now has regular monthly virtual catch ups, which is working well: “It means that we cover off a lot of the company updates and internal content monthly, so when we are together in person, we have less conference sessions, more external content, and more time for networking, and CSR activities.”
At present, the conflict in Ukraine is putting some delegates off travelling to Eastern Europe, and corporate planners are still finding that in some cases up to 15-20% still feel uncomfortable with any international travel.
The debate turned to whether corporates might have to start mandating attendance at internal business events, though most said it would be difficult, especially with hybrid working practices in place.
But many admitted that people seem less inclined to commit to attending events, because they have got used to spending more time at home with their families during the pandemic and therefore demand much more value from events at an individual level.
Compelling pre-event communications, as well as getting internal staff involved in the content are among the strategies being used to drive in person attendance, which is in turn boosting engagement and feedback.