The survey of 183 associations and charities highlight remarkable shifts in events for this key market segment and there’s an important call to action for destination bureaux.
The survey uncovered that only 50 per cent of the organisations that responded have seen attendee volumes return to 2019 levels.
Both delegates and organisers are booking their events later – delegates are registered for events much later than they did pre-COVID, while organisers are also making venue bookings later than they used to. The survey showed organisers are only considering one to two years ahead now in terms of venues.
Cost and financial support have become significant drivers in venue selection, with less focus on amenities for delegates.
And, importantly for destination organisations, 59 per cent of respondents to the Associations Forum’s events survey are not aware of the services provided by convention bureaux although the minority who do have bureaux on their radar tend to use multiple services provided by the destination hosts of their conferences.
The last two points suggest there might be considerable room for bureaux to influence destination choice, particularly if they offer event subvention – but they need to find a way to flag their existence with association decision-makers.
“Our Association Events Survey continues to be a powerful resource [for] the sector and this edition provides important benchmarking data to all associations and charities looking to plan events on the other side of the COVID pandemic,” said Associations Forum general manager, Fatima Sunderji.
The focus on cost in decision-making is echoed in the recently released Customer Demand Project completed by Tourism Australia’s specialist unit, Business Events Australia, which also identified cost as a critical factor in destination choice for international event organisers.