Highlights from HSMAI ROC Middle East 2021
On December 7, Knowland’s Chief Product Officer presented to the HSMAI ROC Middle East group. She shared exciting details about how meetings are recovering and shifting across the globe.
As meetings have returned, Knowland has seen the same pattern exhibited across the globe. Looking at the Middle East specifically, earlier in the year, we saw corporate meetings dominate the landscape. However, over the past 12 weeks, while corporate is still well ahead, we are starting to see other segments pick up as well.
In APAC, we’ve seen this same pattern except even more pronounced. The shift over the past 12 weeks into association is a sign of business not only shifting into other segments but also stabilizing. Typically, association is one of the last segments to recover because it is more dependent on discretionary spend from individuals or companies.
Finally, the shift is most evident in the United States. At this moment, the U.S. is the most stabilized region in the world from a meetings perspective. Here we are seeing two shifts over the last nine months, with business beginning to shift out of corporate and SMERF into the association sector.
The next thing we examined was the size of meeting space used in the Middle East. This one we’ve benchmarked against 2019 for performance. In the first nine months of 2019, meeting space utilized was smaller than what was used over the past 12 weeks. However, when we look at the same metrics this year, we’ve seen meeting size stay relatively stable across both time periods and they are smaller than those periods in 2019.
When we look at average attendees per event, you see the first nine months of 2019 was smaller but grew as we moved into the fall months. This same pattern repeats itself with the 2021 numbers. While neither set of numbers meet the 2019 numbers, we are seeing similar patterns especially in the average number of attendees.
The maturation in the US is a bit more evident. In 2019 larger spaces were used early in the year and smaller later in the year (please note the gap is only about 300 square feet.) Compared to 2021, the pattern is reversed with smaller spaces earlier in the year and larger over the last 12 weeks.
Looking at attendees, in 2019 the average attendees were relatively the same across both time frames. However, in 2021, we see attendees counts nearing the 2019 levels over the past 12 weeks. This has been a trend over the recent past. Proof that people are getting more and more comfortable in meeting in larger numbers but there is still a bit of a need for more space than was used before.
So where does this all lead us? Our industry has changed, most likely, forever. Which means, we will need to change how we do things.
- Smaller meetings are going to continue for a while. While in the U.S., and elsewhere, we have seen a few larger events, they tend to gather more attention which draws more press. Many companies and organizations will likely shy away from these for a while not only for safety but also not wanting to draw the risk of having a “super spreader” event.
- Small meetings mean the places the meetings are held will and have changed. Without the need for dozens of breakouts and thousands of square feet of space, companies can use smaller spaces and facilities. If you are only looking at the same old comp set, there is a chance you are missing potential activity. You need to be looking at every hotel you can to understand shifts in demand patterns.
- RFPs are returning but it doesn’t mean business is returning. Meeting planners are having a difficult time getting responses, so they are opening RFPs to more hotels than ever in hopes of getting a response. One way to get around that is to get to know your accounts. Fewer meetings will mean more competition than ever. To compete, you will need to know your accounts as a whole and not just as individual events.
- Things are still in flux. This means nimble is the key for the day. Things that work today might not work tomorrow. Additionally, business is shifting, groups that are meeting today might pull back and other segments will move forward It’s important you are staying on top of the trends and adjusting frequently.
- Corporate travel is happening. However, the corporate travel might not look the same. What we are seeing the U.S. is that many of the travelers are dressed differently, their travel patterns have changed, and they are not always booking under their corporate rates (Hint: they are booking other rates that might be better.)
- Group is happening. Additionally, with worldwide staffing shortages hotels will be constrained in ways they never have before.
- Finally, channel mix is still shifting. It’s getting closer to 2019 levels but it’s still not back to normal.
If you want to learn more about how to serve meeting planners and increase meetings & events revenue, schedule time with a Knowland expert today.