By Peter Sibley
In 2022, after a couple of years of absence, most of us have enjoyed physically reconnecting with our colleagues, networking with our business community, and being closer to our most important clients. We have even occasionally let our hair down and some of us have taken more expensive and uncomfortable flights to holiday locations when they weren’t cancelled.
Just because we could.
But after this hot, disruptive, worrying summer and as the world continues to shift towards 2023, where will this breathless and rushed return to physical meetings go next.
Significantly, what kind of business decisions will clients be able to fully justify to their stakeholders, employees, their families, and the local and global communities where business plays its role.
Where will we settle?
We spoke to many of our 500 clients across the summer to see what they were thinking and how they will make business decisions about the second half of 2022, 2023, and beyond.
Of course, a key theme was the full recognition of the intrinsic value of physical human meetings. Business is built on relationships and, yes, while AI proceeds in leaps and bounds, we remain sentient human beings who are fundamentally gregarious and like to share food, our own intelligence, laughter, and the reassuring presence of those we need to continue to trust.
We like being part of a club and a crowd.
The second, perhaps more important trend, was listening to what our clients say they’ve learned about the intrinsic values of virtual and hybrid meetings too.
These were the top six reasons, in order of priority, that our clients say will influence their virtual meeting and event business decisions in 2022 and 2023.
- Cost – virtual will help us save costs in a less certain economic climate
- Time – virtual will help us save the real costs of time and drive productivity
- Carbon footprint – virtual will support our sustainability and ESG targets
- Attendees – we don’t want to disappoint attendees remote-access expectations
- Reach – virtual will continue to drive geographical and time zone accessibility
- Data – finally, we can properly measure the engagement in our meetings and events
In summary, the extraordinary time saving of virtual, the P&L cost savings of travel and accommodation, the convenience for attendees, the extended geographical reach, and the increasing ESG regulatory needs for every organisations to help achieve net zero.
So, if these factors are at the front of our client’s minds what will the outcome be?
Our clients say it will involve a much more careful look at the communication’s objective of each different type of meeting and event, and then adopting the right balance for the intrinsic values of each.
Clients say that they know they have the platforms and platform services available and have dramatically accelerated their knowledge of how to apply them.
Now they need to implement rebalanced meetings and events strategies across their organisation’s communications calendar to establish a more positive mix of virtual, hybrid, and in-person events.
The physical honeymoon isn’t quite over yet, but the realities of responsibility, balancing a budget, and adopting the right values are starting to creep, like the early morning light, through the curtains.