How meetings & events programs can navigate a volatile planning environment

The events industry is booming after the pandemic break. This resurgence brings challenges for the industry as agencies and vendors struggle to keep up with customer demand. During the pandemic, many employees at all levels were laid off, agencies closed, or people left the industry altogether. From hospitality staff to baggage handlers, no area of ​​travel and events has been left untouched. The biggest challenge agencies are facing right now is rebuilding teams and attracting the right talent.

Customer budgets are becoming more expensive. According to the CWT GBTA Global Business Travel Forecast 2023, the cost per attendee for meetings and events is expected to be around 25% higher this year than in 2019, and is forecast to rise another 7% next year.

In a people-based industry, attracting talent comes with higher costs, which means client rates will increase as part of the event planning process. Prices are expected to increase further in 2023. If you are able to plan ahead, it is recommended that you book the services well in advance to try and set prices. The clear message here is that clients need to think further ahead than ever before when planning and booking their future events.

delivery times

Being prepared and having as long a lead time as possible allows for better availability and negotiation of supplier prices. Our meetings and events specialists can offer you other options for your meeting. To do this, we recommend booking at least 3 months in advance for a low complexity event and at least 6 months in advance for a complex event.

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Short lead times for higher complexity events can be a challenge. Large event spaces are extremely limited and dates/days of the week may need to be flexible to accommodate your event. AV/production and niche technology companies that provide staff to organize your event and services for virtual and hybrid meetings could also be difficult to find. Supply chains have been fully booked for months.


The high demand for meetings and events as well as rising rates of inflation have increased budgets for meetings and events worldwide. There is a skills shortage and labor costs have risen across the industry. Here we share some ideas to consider to ensure your event budget is manageable:

  • Be precise with the number of participants and what event space is actually required. Now more than ever, it’s important to make sure your numbers really do add up. Determining exact space requirements instead of estimates can lead to stable budgeting. Your event waste including food & beverage and giveaways will be minimal as you only order what you need.
  • Restrict your suppliers. Being a preferred customer and having fewer suppliers to work with allows for preferential pricing and prioritization.
  • Consider a virtual or hybrid meeting. This saves on travel, accommodation and F&B costs for participants who do not have to attend live. It’s also a sustainable option, allowing you to reach more participants for less. If you need to book flights, do so ahead of time to save money and book a group seat, which is often cheaper and more flexible than individual tickets.
  • Maximize the use of M&E technology and mandate the use of meeting management tools. For example, a robust attendee registration solution could reduce your planning time and increase attendee excitement. We also recommend using a self-booking tool such as CWT easy meeting to book your venues and allow your own staff to book meeting rooms and food and beverages.
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cancellation clauses

Be sure to read the fine print! While COVID restrictions are easing, testing and last minute restrictions may still apply in some parts of the world. You may need to reconsider your plans in the short term. Also, check if your venue has a flexible COVID cancellation policy, allowing you to negotiate terms and allow for rescheduling in the event of a disruption.

well-being of the participants

Staff may not be as willing to travel post-COVID so think strongly of their well-being. Alternatives such as virtual and hybrid events and holding meetings in locations that are easy for attendees to reach are key. Participants may also wish to arrive earlier and depart later at their own expense, giving them more time to relax and avoid delays at the airport.

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food and beverages

Inflation has skyrocketed not only in venues and air travel, but also in food and drink, in some cases by as much as 120% more.

While it is difficult in the current environment to reduce menu choices due to the long list of participants’ dietary requirements, consider other options such as self-service stations or packed lunches.

Download the CWT GBTA Global Business Travel Forecast 2023 for global and regional insights into meetings and events cost per attendee and travel and events trends for 2023.

About CWT

CWT is a business-to-business-for-employees (B2B4E) travel management platform. Businesses and governments count on us to keep their employees connected – anywhere, anytime, however – and across six continents we offer their employees innovative technology and an efficient, safe and secure travel experience.

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