Meeting Planners’ Concerns Revealed

January 05, 2022

What’s the one thing on every meeting planner’s mind as we begin to envision the end of this pandemic? DCI’s newest edition of “Winning Strategies In Destination Marketing: A View From Meeting Planners” offers insight into meeting planners’ concerns and numerous other questions to help guide efforts among destinations who want to land the next big event booking.

Business events travel is coming back, and the industry needs to prepare.

The fourth edition surveyed Canadian and U.S. meeting planners and decision makers to understand what they are thinking and seeking as the meetings industry rebounds. Some of the results confirm what we know. Some are surprising. But all of the insight is important for destinations to ensure they are positioning themselves to be chosen to host events in the coming years.

Pandemic Planning

While the 2018 report looked at effects following political events like Brexit and the U.S. presidential election, this report had one main theme: COVID-19. It’s impossible to discuss meetings and conferences without mentioning the pandemic, which hampered most events in 2020 and 2021.

As we build back and plan new events, planners are not ignoring COVID-19, and 97% of respondents say it still factors into their decisions. Planners also weigh in on who should be responsible for the health and security of attendees when they organize events. A lot of attitudes have evolved since 2018, and “Winning Strategies In Destination Marketing: A View From Meeting Planners” distills it all for you.

Biggest Meeting Planner Concerns:

While health and safety were overall factors into the perception of a destination, it was actually the notion of cancellations that truly kept planners up at night. While the travel industry as a whole had to adapt to the new challenges of the pandemic, the MICE industry followed suit. With uncertainty hanging over everybody, in every destination, planners mitigate risk by gravitating towards more lenient cancellation policies.

The vast majority, 73% of respondents pointed to cancellations as the biggest concerns these days. So destinations, take heed. The need is twofold, at its most basic. 

First, encourage partners to develop forgiving and appropriate cancellation policies that can help make meeting planners feel more comfortable choosing your destination. Second, make those policies clear. They should be front and center these days, along with other safety protocols, to help reassure planners that your destination understands the challenges they are facing.

Help Them Keep Safe

Another takeaway related to meeting planners’ concerns connects to safety. Since the 2018 study, perceptions on who should control the safety of an event have shifted significantly. In 2018, 70% of respondents said that planners should work with destinations to make safe events, while only 4% said planners should have the responsibility alone.

Now, the tables have turned, with just 29% looking to collaborate with destinations on safety and a 35% believing that safety should be the planners’ responsibility. A look at the full report and other figures will help contextualize it, but in short, planners don’t fully trust destinations to adhere to acceptable safety and health standards. They prefer to set their own rules and protect their guests on their own terms, especially as so many domestic and international destinations vary on their local mandates and access to healthcare.

It’s just one more of many results that will help destinations tailor their marketing messaging as they look to attract meeting planners. It feels like every city around the world is looking to book big conferences, so it’s the worst possible time to make a misstep now. 

Get Your Copy

The fourth edition of “Winning Strategies In Destination Marketing: A View From Meeting Planners” is out now and provides the data and rankings that destinations need to bolster their perceptions among meeting and conference planners. Click here to download your copy.

Looking to get the eyes of meeting planners on your city or country? The MICE industry is speeding, looking forward, and securing bookings. Get in touch with Stella Tsitsipatis at [email protected] to learn more about DCI’s business events research and marketing services and its more than 60 years of helping address meeting planners’ concerns while connecting them to destinations worldwide.