2022 & Corporate Events: What’s Next?

Face-to-face meetings are on the rise, but it might be some time before we go back to “normal.”
Michal Christine Escobar
Senior Editor, Hotels
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While event and meeting data indicate that more and more corporate events are happening in person, hoteliers may still be wondering: When will the corporate event business finally return to normal? While no one knows for sure, Chuck Bauman, CEO, INSPIRE (formerly J&S Audio Visual), has unique insights into the corporate events industry. Serving as in-house technology partners with more than 100 of hotels and convention centers in the United States, Mexico, and the Caribbean, INSPIRE produces more than 2,500 events a year. In this exclusive Q&A, HT chats with Bauman to learn his thoughts on the future of corporate events.

Discuss your thoughts on hybrid in-person and virtual events for 2022.

We believe hybrid and virtual meetings are more simply bridges to the return of face-to-face events rather than the new normal. Humans crave personal contact, so we need gatherings. 2022 and 2023 will be pivotal years as we settle into the new normal, and the old way of conducting business has to evolve.

How might event tech and hybrid meetings affect hotelier needs for staffing? Does it lessen the burden in some way? 

As meetings and events recover at a strong pace, hoteliers have to stay ahead of staffing based on anticipation of what is coming up. Service is so crucial in our business that we can’t compromise on service while looking at a different technology skill set. For example, we are looking at our staffing differently than before and looking at a different skill set that supports the virtual and hybrid events. This opens up a new labor pool for us and allows us to attract a segment of the market that might not have been interested in traditional event technology in the past. The hotels that manage their internet and infrastructure need to ensure their team has the skill set to manage the higher internet demand with virtual and hybrid meetings.

What are your predictions for events and event technologies in the next 2 to 3 years? How might events happen differently from now on?

I predict we will continue to see more regional meetings than the massive global conferences with the vigor they had before. Additionally, the booking window for meetings and events will be much shorter, and we have to adapt to the shorter planning time frame. And the utilization and engagement of outdoor spaces will likely increase so that meetings can offer the opportunity for people to self-distance as they choose.