July 28, 2022 | By Bronwen Largier | Image: Corporate decision-makers indicate most events being planned will take place in major cities

The proportion of corporate event decision-makers still holding off on staging events in the pandemic era has shrunk to four per cent, while those who have resumed holding events has grown by 20 per cent since late January and early February, according to Tourism Australia’s latest research wave tracking attitudes towards restarting corporate events in Australia.

In the latest iteration of the research, conducted in June 2022, 67 per cent of the 454 event decision-makers surveyed said they had delivered events since the pandemic began, up from 47 per cent in the previous research wave released in February. The number of respondents that said they were planning events in the next six to 12 months also rose by 17 per cent in the latest results, released today.

The trend amongst corporate decision-makers indicates that hybrid events are falling out of favour, while virtual events remain useful. Respondents indicated that 61 per cent of future event plans were fully face to face, an increase of six per cent, while the proportion of hybrid events in the pipeline has dropped from 15 per cent to 10. However, the proportion of virtual events in the mix remained more or less steady, at 29 per cent – down just one per cent on the February research.

The latest research also shows that the events landscape has not yet settled, despite activity ramping up. In today’s report, 78 per cent of respondents said they had cancelled or postponed at least one event between January and May 2022, down just two per cent on cancellations between October and December 2022. However, given event cancellations and postponements were particularly prevalent in January 2022, during the shock of the first Omicron wave, and have become less common in the later months of the survey, it’s possible there is a significant reduction in this figure in the next iteration of the research.

Postponed events are not being held back for long – 81 per cent of organisers say they’ve rescheduled some of their events within the next six months.

The news is positive for the exhibition sector too, with 93 per cent of those surveyed claiming they will support the same number or more shows compared to before the pandemic in the next year, with 77 per cent indicating they’re on the “more” bandwagon. Overall, this is up 11 per cent on the February research, with a 10 per cent increase in those who believe they will be more active in the exhibitions space, compared to pre-COVID business.

On the big picture level, the research indicates event appetites are healthy, with 92 per cent of responding decision-makers believing their businesses will run the same or more events after COVID compared to pre-pandemic – this is up 11 per cent on the sentiment in February. In respect of budgets, 94 per cent of decision-makers say they’ll have the same or more money at their disposal for domestic events in the next year, up 10 per cent compared to February.