Business News

Revisiting Skift Meetings’ 2023 Predictions 

Blocks changing from 2023 to 2024.

Skift Take

Were the meeting trends we forecasted for 2023 on the mark? What did we get right? What did we miss?

January is a time to reflect on the previous year’s highlights and look ahead to a new year. We made seven predictions for 2023. Here they are and how they materialized.

Inclusivity is the New Diversity

There is no doubt that inclusivity continues to be more than a should-have; it’s a must-have, but this 2023 prediction hit a roadblock. The Supreme Court rolled back affirmative action in the college admission process, a groundbreaking decision. It will also have ripple effects impacting meetings. The worry is that this decision will lead corporations to slow their pursuit of diversity and inclusion for fear of being targets of legal action.

Planners Embrace Transformational Experience-First Events to Win Over Reluctant Travelers

The days of if we plan an event, they will come are over, and that continues. There needs to be more than just creating wow for wow. Today’s events must expand one’s knowledge or way of thinking. They must lead to connections that don’t happen behind a screen.

What is a thing of the past is reluctant travelers. Today, it is full steam ahead. 

A new Harris Poll conducted for Intrepid Travel finds most U.S. adults, 57%, plan to take the same number of trips in 2024 as they did in 2023. One in four plan to travel more. According to the poll, travelers are prioritizing meaningful experiences over material possessions. If a meeting or event offers a transformational experience, it will be more alluring than one that does not.  

The Weaponization of Travel

This issue gathered steam in 2023 as more states passed polarizing laws. Florida made some of the biggest headlines when Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a flurry of bills targeting the LGBTQ community, including restrictions on transgender healthcare and drag shows. In response, in May, groups representing Black and Latino Americans issued warnings about traveling to the state.

As more U.S. states pass controversial laws, pulling a group out of a particular destination that doesn’t align with the company’s values becomes more difficult. Finding a destination where everyone will feel accepted is a challenge.

What is happening more often is going ahead with the gathering and doing something to help while at the destination. For instance, doing volunteer work or making a charitable contribution to an organization in the destination that aligns with your company’s philosophies.

Authentic Destinations Take Center Stage

This trend continues as attendees crave memorable experiences and the opportunity to explore different cultures and environments. Most authentic destinations are small. This is an obstacle for large conventions. In turn, tried-and-true destinations like Orlando, Las Vegas, Chicago, and Dallas remain top meeting destinations.

From Event Planners to Designers of Time

This is a trend that is here to stay. Younger generations demand work-life balance, and this holds for the meetings and events they attend. They will not sit through a day of sessions. They crave networking opportunities and downtime. Flexibility to thrive in both their work worlds and personal lives is imperative.  

Easing the Travel Experience for Attendees

Labor strikes were exacerbated in 2023. In the weeks leading up to IMEX America, a strike by the Culinary and Bartenders union representing hospitality workers loomed. Although the strike has been resolved, labor disputes continue to be a possibility.

There isn’t much ease when it comes to air travel. My experience in July spotlights the delays millions of travelers had to deal with in 2023. I was flying to Dallas to attend Destinations International’s Annual Convention.

Because of extreme heat, my flight was delayed seven hours. I missed meetings, a teambuilding activity, and a dinner reception as I sat in Newark Liberty International Airport waiting for a heat sensor to be replaced in the cockpit. My experience is common, as stories like this were reported from around the globe in 2023. 

Data-Driven Event Personalization

We got this prediction right for 2023 and believe that data-driven event planning will continue to be the norm in 2024. Some of the most integral aspects of event professionals’ work now revolve around data collection and interpretation and using that data to show potential sponsors and exhibitors the value of attending.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is emerging as a time-saving option for planners. AI technology is already a powerful resource for planners in many areas, including venue sourcing, event marketing, and reviewing contracts. The capabilities are expanding, which has been a benefit to planners.

What are our predictions for 2024? We’ll be sharing these in our upcoming report Skift Meetings Megatrends 2024, launching next week!