Collaboration and Consolidation among Top Trends for Business Events

Strong industry-wide collaboration to raise the profile of meetings and events will continue in 2021.

This is one of the predictions made by the Hotel Booking Agency Association (HBAA).

Market and business recovery, the rise of virtual and hybrid events, and the importance of mental health and sustainability are among other items forecasted.

The association expects recovery will begin in Q2, at the very earliest, and agencies that haven’t reduced their costs and/or failed to secure new areas of revenue will struggle.

“In-person, large-scale business events will return but not to full scale until the end of 2021, and even 2022,” says HBAA membership director, Julie Shorrock. “Smaller meetings and hybrid events will replace the large-scale offerings for 2021.”

The reason behind the continued rise of hybrid and virtual events is safety concerns.

“We will see a commitment from clients to run the events they may have held off in 2020, but virtual and hybrid will be the way in which they feel safe to do this,” says HBAA marketing director, Beckie Towle.

On business travel, steady growth is anticipated. Domestic travel will improve more quickly than international, and rail will see a faster return to normalcy than air travel.

For hotel and accommodation providers, recovery will be gradual.

“Transient accommodation numbers will see a quicker return, although we will be nowhere near 2019 numbers in 2021,” says HBAA membership directory, Callum McLean.

Sustainability is expected to reappear on business agendas fairly quickly, and ‘planet, people and profit’ will all be talking points to act upon.

“There will be opportunities for organizations to implement sustainability policies and, with that, there will be increased demand for agencies, venues and suppliers to demonstrate best practice in this area,” says HBAA executive director, Juliet Price.

People will be high on the agenda, too, following the stress and mental health issues experienced last year.

“Our people continue to be our biggest assets and no one will be unscathed by 2020, in some shape or another,” says HBAA consultant executive director, Leigh Cowlishaw. “Whilst the taboo subject of mental health was starting to be overturned, this subject must now be elevated to the forefront within all businesses to aid recoveries.”


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