New Research: Looking Beyond Bookings to a Sustainable Events Industry

June 30, 2022
Long tables set up for a catered business dinner.

The newest report from International Association of Conference Centres (IACC) is out, and the results are showing that there is much hope for recovery across the events industry. A closer look, however, reveals a few considerations that destinations and their venues should have on their radars as we move away from the pandemic and into a more safeguarded and sustainable events industry.

DCI has worked with IACC since 2016 to produce its Meeting Room of the Future study. The report offers insight from global meeting planners and industry specialists, providing a look into the constantly evolving world of corporate events. 

The 2022 edition taps into the experiences of 87 venue operators from North America, Europe and Australia. While there are plenty of data points to give us hope, the report also reveals other areas that venues and the industry as a whole must not neglect moving forward to ensure that recovery is as solid as possible. Continued cooperation between destinations and their event venues can ensure a better future for all.

1. Talent Troubles and Supply

Finding talent remains an issue for some venues, but the IACC research paints a more optimistic portrait than people may think. Despite the cacophony of phrases such as “great resignation” or “war of talent” across business media, 55% of the venues surveyed indicate they have or will return to full-staffing levels by the end of this year, while 82% anticipate they will be fully recovered by no later than 2023. 

Moreover, 92% of venues expect that staff shortages and/or supply chain issues will have little to no impact on their services or amenities from 2022 Q2 onwards.

While there have been widespread reports of an exodus of talent moving away from the events industry, the MRoTF findings suggest experienced workers are in fact returning to the sector, with 76% of surveyed venues reporting that their new hires have, on average, over one year of industry experience. 

All signs point to a very well-staffed recovery for the events industry, but destinations and venues must create policies and training programs to help preserve their workforces in the future. A sustainable events industry relies on having a reliable workforce and being able to keep them on payroll when times are difficult.

2. Sustainability for Greener Meetings

Although the study indicates areas of optimism for the meeting rooms of the future, it also highlights room for improvement, particularly regarding sustainability. There appears to be rising demand for sustainable practices, with almost half of global venues reporting an increase in requests from clients to present their Environmental, Social & Governance (ESG) initiatives when considering their venue. While virtual meetings have their own sustainable appeal, in-person events can still be improved upon.

Of the venues surveyed, 56% reported offering drink products in plastic bottles and 49% use single use plastic food utensils. Among North American venues, these figures were even higher at 67% and 65% respectively. 

These numbers are discouraging and underscore a need for destinations to develop greener practices when it comes to holding events. There is still much work to be done to reduce single-use plastics, excessive paper, and other materials that simply end up in landfills after an event. 

A sustainable events industry is as much of a moral imperative as it is good business to give planners what they want. IACC’s research shows that 46% of respondents to this year’s survey reported receiving increased requests from clients to either state or provide social responsibility and environmental credentials.

3. Community Outreach

Thinking about local communities, venues still have work they can do to give back to communities while simultaneously cutting down on waste. According to the IACC research, only 54% of venues globally reported the ability to donate unused food to local communities. While this is a rise from previous years, it shows how a truly sustainable events industry remains at large.

It may seem a small detail, but with more demand than ever for sustainable practices and destination stewardship, venues and meeting spaces need to be part of the solution. A destination must ensure that public policy aligns with these goals, to be able to give back to the community when possible. This also means generating volunteer programs that 65% of venues globally already report having available for staff.  

As in-person meetings continue on their road to recovery, most venues are expecting to recover to pre-pandemic levels sooner rather than later. This recovery can seemingly be boosted by an increased focus on thinking long-term about talent and developing actual sustainable practices.

At DCI, we have more than 60 years of experience helping destinations and their venues build up reputations with meeting planners and decision makers worldwide. As we enter this next stage of recovery, we’re still at it. Contact Stella Tsitsipatis at [email protected] to learn more about how our agency can help make you a sustainable events industry leader.