In-person meetings are back in full force, the need for core PCO services has increased, and focus on sustainability and DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) are stronger than ever, found ICCA’s 2023 survey on Association Meeting Needs.
Meetings and events are still the largest segment of revenue generation for associations (for 46% of respondents this is the main revenue stream), although there is a growing need for associations to diversify their revenue stream to become more financially sustainable for the future.
The survey also shares insights into creative approaches for doing so, as well as some great initiatives associations are undertaking to provide year-round in-person and digital engagement opportunities for their members.
There is a clear trend towards getting events back to in-person format, with 51% of associations indicating that they will hold their largest meeting in 2023 in-person, compared to 41% in 2022 and 14% in 2021.
Just under half of the associations are indicating that they will be changing their RFPs in the near future, with the majority indicating that they will be incorporating aspects such as hybrid/digital options, sustainability, as well as legacy initiatives.
And with many associations returning to in-person events, the need for support in the production of (virtual) events and integrated digital meeting platforms has dropped drastically. The need for core PCO services has however increased compared to last year, and is now the highest-ranking service closely followed by assistance with raising sponsorship and funding for events.
The majority of the respondents (83%) are making efforts to work towards more sustainable events and practices. However, the industry needs to be mindful that associations are in different stages of the sustainability journey, with some mentioning advanced and established sustainability strategies, and others acknowledging there is yet a lot to learn.
Around 80% of respondents indicate that they have a DEI policy in place, or at least are making some efforts to address DEI.
Partnerships are key in supporting associations in their efforts towards more sustainable and inclusive events. By sharing best practices and experiences with peers and with meeting suppliers, as well as engaging with initiatives such as the Net Zero Carbon Events, the whole meetings industry can unite to tackle these challenges together.
The survey was conducted in collaboration with the European Society of Association Executives, the African Society of Association Executives, and the Asia-Pacific Federation of Association Organizations.
The full survey can be found here.