Growth, risk and elevation: meetings and events in 2021 and beyond


We’re delighted to say that face-to-face meetings and events are making a comeback! With the recovery of travel, we’re seeing a surge in bookings related to physical meetings and events.

So as we begin to transition from virtual and hybrid events back to in-person, we wanted to take a look at what’s ahead for the year and 2022. Speaking with Andrea Molina, Director of Event Operations at FCM Meetings & Events, we’re learning what’s on the horizon in this space for the year ahead.

In-person meetings are back!

Since June 2021, we’ve seen a big spike in requests for in-person events. The main type? Venue sourcing for small domestic meetings for 10-30 people – most planned meetings with under 50 people are fully in-person. There’s also a boost in demand for conferences and incentives for the fall and into 2022.

When it comes to larger events there’s still a virtual component but it’s usually a back-up. They’re mainly planned with an in-person focus. This has changed from a few months ago, when planners were making equal experiences for both sets of attendees.  

Andrea explains some of the reasons behind this approach: “In-person events have been affected by the ban on corporate travel, which we are seeing a shift in this summer. Many customers are starting off with small meetings, hence the influx of requests.”

She adds, “From the last 12+ months, customers have become accustomed to and seen the benefits of virtual events, such as ROI, reach and costs. So for their larger in-person conferences, they are including a hybrid component to give delegates the option to attend in person or virtually. This caters to varying risk tolerances and means they can reach a wider audience.”

Growth in company staff is high on the agenda

A lot of those in-person meeting requests are focused on companies who are investing in their people. The majority of trips booked are for sales training and new hire onboarding/training/orientation. What’s cool to see is that there’s also a focus on reward and recognition and bringing teams together again through incentive programs and off-site company retreats.

business meeting in person


Collaboration and networking is at the center of future virtual event planning. Andrea explains:

Virtual platforms have great capabilities for polished and professional one-to-many broadcasts. However, there is more of a focus on group discussions and breakouts with the ability for everyone to have cameras on and contribute to discussions.   

Build on what you’ve learnt

Andrea admits that planning events is still trickier than ever. If you’ve not revised your strategy recently, this is the opportunity to sit back and think about the bigger picture before jumping back into organizing.

Here’s some of tips from our M&E experts:

  • Don’t rush! You may have the green light from management to start planning again, but spend time to revaluate your event strategy and policy. How have your objectives changed? Do your attendees remember the process to travel to events? What events need to be in-person and what can you achieve virtually?
  • Don’t let a good pandemic go to waste! Collectively we have many learnings and skills from pivoting to virtual and hybrid events that should be applied to future event strategies. Use them to elevate your program and ROI.
  • Consider risk management – there are many angles to be addressed including your processes.
  • Use the right technology to boost your chances in meeting your event objectives. Leverage the expertise of your event agency; they can navigate the options and get you the best ROI.

Remember to check those contracts

While the pandemic situation has improved in some areas of the world, COVID-19 still poses a threat to events. During continued uncertainty, it’s worth keeping a close eye on contracts and suppliers.

Andrea says, Contract negotiation is more important than ever to minimize risk for your business. Things like force majeure clauses, cancelation terms, attrition and rebooking clauses need to be reworked to provide both parties with flexibility should the event have to be altered.”

There’s light ahead

“Everyone is dying to get face time and build connections! There’s definitely a rise in in-person events for 2022 and 2023,” says Andrea, with more requests for international travel.

As for the people of the events industry, they’ve really been through it all. But they’ve always found a way and will continue to.

“The events industry has proven itself to be resilient and adaptable. We will encounter more change, but we have the confidence to be able to take on new challenges with the learnings from the last year. Every planner in the events industry is a better planner because of what we’ve been through. We have more value and skills to add to your events program!”

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