October 3, 2023

HBAA shares sector predictions

Recovery in the business events sector will start in spring 2021, according to the management team at the HBAA.

Sharing predictions for the next 12 months, HBAA Governance Director Sian Sayward said: “In-person large-scale business events will return, but not to full scale until the end of 2021, and even 2022. Smaller meetings and smaller/hybrid events will replace the large-scale offerings for 2021.”

Des McLaughlin, HBAA Strategy Director and Managing Director of Meet Events, said the end of the Government’s furlough scheme in March will impact market recovery.

“Agencies that haven’t reduced their costs and/or failed to secure new areas of revenue will struggle,” he said.

“Travel management companies could find business particularly challenging as clients will be looking for innovative meeting solutions rather than a transactional service.”

David Taylor, HBAA Advisor and Non-Executive Director of BCD Meetings & Events, said there will be “strong demand for employee engagement events, which by their very nature will need to be in person”.

“Regional countryside and sporting venues will be the main beneficiaries of this resurgence as their location and facilities will support the new best practices,” he said, but added that residential training will be hit hard as many courses will now be lost to virtual.

Leigh Cowlishaw, HBAA Consultant Executive Director, added: “Customer confidence in booking, staying, travelling and attending is affected, with many organisations not actually allowing these activities to take place, or tiers making these decisions for us. Therefore assurances, recognised benchmarks and the ability to showcase revised protocols and standards is absolutely key to kick start recovery.

“As an industry we have adapted our ways or working and implemented measurements to ensure that the customer journey touch points have been considered and are as safe as they can be. We need to continue to shout about this and pre-empt concerns individuals or companies may have. As an industry we have been tracking and tracing for years through delegate, guest and traveller management.”

The HBAA predicted that hybrid events will continue to increase in 2021.

Many corporate meetings programmes will be re-tendered early next year to include virtual as a key component, said Beckie Towle, HBAA Marketing Director and Founder of The Events Raccoon.

“Engagement with the booking communities on how and when to use virtual and cost avoidance will all be important KPIs,” she said.