14 min read

Webinar: 2023 Meetings Outlook (Dec. 2022)

Webinar: 2023 Meetings Outlook (Dec. 2022)

All right, let's get started. Welcome everybody to Amtrav's webinar on the 2023 Meetings Outlook, Outlook for Meetings. Second in our series of webinars going forward.

[Speaker 2]

All right, let's get started. Welcome everybody to Amtrav's webinar on the 2023 Meetings Outlook, Outlook for Meetings. Second in our series of webinars going forward.

Stay tuned to the very end, we'll tell you what's up next. But we are really excited to talk meetings today, meetings, travel, they have a lot in common. And we are joined by no less than Ms. Tracy Judge. We're thrilled to be joined by Tracy, the CEO of Event Talent Solutions Provider Soundings and an Amtrav partner. She's gonna talk through the state and Outlook for Meetings and then how Sounding sees and addresses the meetings, the need for meetings talent. Tracy's career, I don't know if she'll introduce herself, but I will.

Her career includes leadership positions at Merits and Cadence and Event Management and Sales. She was named to EventX's top 100 most influential people in the event industry in 2021. She was nominated and if I vote counts, she will win again in 2022.

She was also named to Connect Corporate Magazine's 40 Under 40 in 2022. Nikki, who's also here, was just named a PCMA's 20 in their 20s. So this is quite the lineup we've got.

Tracy founded Soundings in 2018, which consists of Soundings Connect and Soundings Thrive. Soundings Connect is a talent solutions consultancy for associations, for corporates, for planners in need of meetings talent. Soundings Thrive is a vibrant members only community for over 1800 members.

For both, Soundings provides agile talent solutions for business events, associations, and nonprofits, hotels, tourism, et cetera. With that, let me turn it over to Tracy for the state and outlook of meetings and then how Soundings helps folks across the industry. Tracy.

[Speaker 1]

Okay. Thank you, Elliot. And thanks for that very nice and embarrassing introduction.

Unfortunately, the one thing I can't win again is the 40 Under 40 because I did turn 40 this year. So, but thank you for having us today. And we've partnered with Amtrav and it's been amazing working with you and your team over the last few months.

There's a partnership is really important to us. And there's a lot of solutions that we can offer each of our customers. So I'm excited to be here with all of the Amtrav customers today as well.

And Elliot talked a little bit about our business. Like he said, we're a talent platform. We offer freelance town solutions as well as recruiting services in the industry.

Now, typically corporate travel, corporate events, there's a lot of data that's presented. We all know a lot of that. Now we know where we are in the industry.

We know prices have raised quite a bit. Costs are 25% higher per attendee in 2022 versus where we were in 2019. It's likely to increase by 7% in the next year.

But what we also know, which has been amazing in the last year is that 83% of people said their organizations did return to in-person events, which has been exciting as well as very challenging for all of us with a lot of the factors we considered to be considered. And then also what I find is interesting. We saw a quick switch back from, when we saw a quick switch back to live events from virtual events, we thought, what's going to happen to virtual at this point?

But we are seeing a migration back to hybrid events as well. And a study showed that 46% of meeting buyers and managers are planning to hold hybrid events. So this is all stuff we've seen.

We know we've lived. What I really want to share with everyone today is what we're seeing for 2023 and in areas that we're not always talking about in studies and in reports. So I'm going to go through some of the themes and trends that we've been seeing.

And if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to put that in the chat. And Elliot or Nikki, if something pops up, feel free to interrupt me. Let's try to make this as interactive as we possibly can.

So the first thing I want to talk about is the in-person and digital. And like I mentioned before, when live events came back, it's almost like we just ditched virtual and a lot of people stopped, companies stopped incorporating the digital component for their events. And this year, in the last few months, I've had the opportunity to attend multiple industry, multiple industry events.

IMAX America, convening EMEA for PCMA, as well as CventConnect in Europe. So it gave me a broad outlook on what is happening globally within our industry. And I will say one thing that shined through was that the future is physical and digital.

I was so proud of our industry and how far we've come after attending, convening EMEA and CventConnect Europe, because it was the first two events where I have really seen the digital component be implemented flawlessly with the live event component. There was engagement pre-event of webinars you could go to. When we were there live, we all know, the live interaction piece of it, but it was the first time I have ever post event, re-watched content after the event on events on sessions that I had attended that maybe I wasn't focused enough on, and then watching sessions that I didn't have the time to watch.

So for sure, I know a lot of us have a little PTSD from having to be virtual for so long, but don't forget about it because it's going to come back. It's going to come back fast. It's good for us because it makes spend in our industry larger.

And additionally, it's a great way to reach your attendees. The next is event professionals are community builders. We hear a lot about communities within our industry, and really within every industry.

We see a lot of tech companies building communities around their technology, bringing people together to learn it together, and that is going to continue. And if you think about communities and you think about events, really event planners have always been community builders. We're bringing people together.

We're bringing different types of people together. We have breakout sessions on topics that people are interested in. We're making these micro communities.

And when I was at PCMA, Amia Kim-Kopetz, the president and CEO of Opus spoke, and she talked about how brands are investing more in content marketing and community building than ever before. And the example she used was Salesforce. And if you haven't taken a look at what Salesforce is doing, I do suggest taking a look at it because it's really interesting how they're incorporating their trailblazer community, which is essentially a customer success community where their users are working together to learn.

It's also building brand advocacy. Salesforce Plus, they just launched, and this is very similar to what I spoke about with PCMA Amia, and they're incorporating content through their live events and through Dreamforce with other content they're recording throughout the year as well. So it's almost like Netflix for Salesforce.

And then also they have a print magazine. So, and it's talks about things like leadership and future of work and a lot of the topics that companies are facing now. So definitely think about communities and how you can continue to build them for your events.

And then also remember you're doing it live. And then also think about how you can do it digitally. Can you incorporate a know before you go session before the event or a session to talk about one of the breakouts beforehand so you can make it more interactive there?

So focus on building communities. The industry is definitely doing it. D&I and sustainability go hand in hand.

One trend is I would say UK, Europe, Amia as a whole has really been focused on sustainability way before we have in North America. And we're going to, I think now there's so much momentum towards D&I and sustainability. So that will be a huge initiative here especially in North America.

But one of the things I found really interesting is we've always kind of talked about D&I and sustainability environmental sustainability as two separate things. And now there's a shift to really talk about this together. And this is led by the UN's sustainable development goals which brings everything related to corporate responsibility under one umbrella.

So when you're speaking about these when you're thinking about it for your events think about how all of these pieces come together and focus more on the corporate responsibility piece of it than separating the two. Sorry, I'm having trouble advancing the slide here. There we go.

Another thing that is more important than ever and we did see this a lot during COVID of all of us trying to figure it out a new partnerships form. But this is really going to continue and partnerships are critical for our growth. One of the conferences I was at, we talked about how trust and transparency between a vendor or supplier partner and a organization is so important right now because we are dealing with the same things like rising costs, like shortage of talent.

And this is really impacting how quickly we can move how we have to price. And the price piece of this is a huge component to why partnership is really important. There's a woman from an agency in the UK at CventConnect on stage and talked about how she is so much more transparent about pricing than she used to be and works with her clients on it because you don't want your vendors to go out of business.

We want everyone here, you want the people you're hiring to be able to support you. And so these partnerships can continue to go forward. So trust and transparency, when you are working with your vendor partners, think about that.

They're likely to be way more transparent than they have previously with you. And that transparency will help you also understand how to work with them and the challenges they're facing so you can solve problems essentially together. The other piece of it is efficiencies and partnerships.

And this is an example of that as well. So we all have customers, we have like customers to Amtrav. We both have products and services that you need that we can supply you.

So the ability to partner with other organizations and really helps our customers one-stop shop more when there's so many options out there. And then the last piece of this is impact. And it's pretty simple.

When more of us come together, we have a larger voice. And with a lot of the initiatives, especially related to DEI and sustainability, it's so important that these partnerships happen. And this is example, if you attend an IMEX, Encore had a exhibit called Break Free and it was an interactive experience so they can demonstrate what they're able to do from a production standpoint.

But what they did is they partnered with IMEX who had data, a lot of data on the sustainability and DEI challenges we've been facing that they had collected. And then they made an exhibit where you could actually interact with the data. So this was a really interesting partnership, but we think about how can you work together?

How can you work together with your partners or your sponsors to create experiences that add more value? And then lastly, obviously this is where we sit in the marketplace, but there is a global talent. There's still a global talent shortage.

It was really interesting sitting in different breakouts or with different groups of people from all areas of the industry, hotels, DMCs, convention centers, tourism boards, and everyone had the same challenge with finding talent for their organizations. And the industry itself is starting to do some creative things to attract more talent. For instance, Ireland has a national program that they've launched and a full-on campaign that they're using to draw more people into the hospitality, to drive more people into the hospitality industry.

And this is, even if your organization is staffed properly, you are impacted by other organizations not being staffed properly. So this is really a problem that all of us in the industry really need to be able to solve together. So as far as global talent shortages go, it's a 16-year high for global talent shortages.

45% of leisure and hospitality jobs were still unfilled in July of 2022, which is a huge number. Granted, we have some efficiencies and technologies that help, especially in the hotel space, but we're still not nearly at the levels we are before. 48% of people have quit to go to other industries.

That trend, unfortunately, continues because of the fact that we are short on talent, which makes everybody's job harder. And another thing we're seeing is that people are resigning to be independent. And again, crazy work conditions, long hours, tired from fighting through the whole pandemic.

People are looking to have more professional freedom in their careers. And then we look a lot at talent acquisition. It's one of, I don't know, it's the craziest market for talent I've ever experienced in my career.

It will probably continue to be for a while now, but companies are having trouble finding the right talent in any industry. Ours is just tougher because of the mass exodus we have. 75% are saying that they can't find the right blend of technical skills and human strengths.

This is also a change we'll see in the workforce where the idea of the ability to train on soft skills has been, is more important than ever as things are changing so fast. And obviously, onboarding is expensive to do. And also resignations, which we're seeing a lot of in today's market, it become really expensive for companies too.

That's the overview of really where we are from a talent standpoint. And now I'm gonna transition a little bit more into agile staffing solutions and how they can help solve our industry's problems. But before I do that, do we have any questions?

[Speaker 2]

So far, none in the Q and A in the chat, but just as a reminder, if anybody has any comments or questions about anything that Tracy is talking about or you want to know, go ahead and drop them in the Q and A or the chat section and either myself or Elliot will make sure they get over to Tracy and so she can answer them.

[Speaker 1]

Thank you, Nikki. All right, so agile talent solutions. Agile talent solutions can really help solve a lot of the industry's largest challenges.

We talked about talent shortages and skill gaps, recruitment, retention, and diversity and inclusion, and then agility and business continuity. We are in a recession and it's likely to continue for a while, although we don't really like to talk about it. We have to think about how are we planning and how are we creating a sustainable workforce to sustain our business as we move forward what could be turbulent times.

So what is agile staffing? Essentially, agile staffing is using additional experts from outside of your organization, so not employees, but contractors or freelancers to help contribute to your projects or your events. So essentially leveraging the freelance workforce to find the type of talent you need and the amount of talent you need throughout the year.

We talked about diversity and inclusion earlier and we read a lot about this and I follow talent. So LinkedIn is constantly feeding me articles about talent challenges. One of the things I read about was I kept reading about how data that said the black workforce didn't want to go back into the office and I didn't understand this.

And so when I read more into it, this was HBR said 81% of black knowledge workers say they prefer hybrid. And so we looked into what code switch, I read about code switching and it's really interesting that having to go into the workplace and not be yourself and having the feeling that you needed to act different, well, having to use that energy as well takes away from your actual job and having the ability to work where you work and how you want to work, people are actually able to perform at higher competency for themselves as well as their organizations. The other thing is that age, we have a problem in our industry. We had a lot of at the top, a lot of people retiring and also young talent as well.

But people think that freelancing is for younger generations and it's not necessarily true. 26% of freelancers are actually baby boomers. So generations that are retiring that don't wanna be fully retiring are still able to be part of our workforce.

And then for females, females left the workforce at four times the pace of men during the pandemic. We're an industry that's 77% female and HBR did a study that said two thirds of women that are highly skilled wouldn't have left the workforce if they had more flexibility in their jobs. And agile, the ability to freelance or work in temporary roles really gives women a lot of flexibility they need.

And just, this is a little bit about our freelance network as well and the diversity in it. We have over 1800 independent talent as we like to call them in our network. And with all different levels of experience, all different ages have operated all different places in throughout the world.

And when we talk about diversity, diversity of thought is so important as we move forward. So leveraging an agile workforce or the freelance economy can really help you diversify your talent within your organization. And I found it soundings in 2018 and it was really with the concept that we wanted to provide professional freedom to all.

And previously freelancing wasn't seen as a career path in our industry. It was really something that happened behind the scenes. But the truth is freelancing and contracting can give people a lot of the flexibility they want and help give them the professional freedom to design their own career.

And that is really what our mission is, is to help people have professional freedom while helping companies solve a lot of their challenges. So part of offering agile solutions is offering different ways that talent can work with organizations. So we can do that in an agile talent model where we're supporting a company on all, or you can have a la carte services to help support your teams.

So freelance gig workers, essentially day of onsite running webcasts, contract workers, you can hire a planner for long-term contract. If you're covering a parental leave or if you have a project you need to work on long-term. And what a lot of people don't realize is that it brings people into your organization and bringing talent in and treating them like part of your team is actually a way to pull talent in that will wanna be a full-time employee.

So it's actually a recruiting tool for you as well. And we place a lot of talent in roles that where they started in a contract position. And then recruiting as well.

And we can talk about that a little bit more, but agile staffing solutions doesn't mean that you have everybody freelance. You need to have the right infrastructure to be able to support the freelancers and the agile talent within your organizations. The other thing is that we talked about both community and we talked about partnership as well.

And it is so important to bring these things together. When I first started Soundings, we were more of a marketplace where we had talent. When the pandemic happened, there was no work.

So what could we do? We provided community and education to our community, or to the talent in our network. And what we realized is that community is more important than it ever was before.

And it was the thing that was really missing within our organization. So community within this community, we're able to help talent continually upskill and learn and give them, put them with like-minded people, like-minded groups to continually grow their career because they don't have that infrastructure like within a larger organization. And also, partnership comes into play here too, is we partnered with, for instance, virtual event platforms.

So they were able to give us access and they were able to give us education. So we were able to upskill talent and put people back to work. Really quick, I'll go through a high-level two case studies.

It's the same company, two different ways that they've been able to use agile staffing solutions. One of the ways, this was a company that was bringing together their global meetings program. And they were, you know, division by division, bringing this under one umbrella.

So as they were growing this out, it really helped to leverage contract and freelance talent, not only to get the skill sets, to get the skill sets they needed, and as they were figuring out long-term what resources they needed, this bridged the gap during that time. Once it was identified what positions that were needed, we were able to help with recruiting. And like I said before, some start freelance as positions open.

You can put people in the full-time roles within the organization. So this was a way for them, and this way was to consolidate meeting departments, but this is also a great way to build your meeting department back up. And then this is an example of one project that we worked on, and the customer was using a new event technology, and they needed people trained on that technology.

It was one of our partners, so we had people trained on it, but we worked with the customer and looked overall, how is this going to work? It was the first hybrid event, and what positions do we need fully? And then what positions need to be actual internal positions?

So you'll see the purple on this is where they were already internal stakeholders. Then we noticed a gap for this internal meeting planner for it, so we recruited for that position. Then there were longer-term positions that worked for months, and then we needed day of freelancers as well to plug in to run the actual webinars.

So as you can see in this example, if our customer was going to hire all of these positions, they would have a lot of overhead, or they might have people that didn't have the right specialties. But by using Agile Talent and Freelance Talent, you're able to plug and play and build the team you need for a specific project. So, and I say benefits of working with Soundings.

We do differentiate ourselves from a lot of other companies out there, but really a lot of this stuff across the board is how Agile Staffing Solutions really can help you. One of the things I want to point out here though is the classification and compliance, and this is really important for all of you to know.

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