Significant shifts in the business events industry have been highlighted in ExCeL London’s ‘Event with Intent’ report, advocating for a redefined approach to Return on Investment (ROI) as ‘Return on Intent.’
Gathering insights from over 300 delegates, event organizers, and agencies, the study emphasizes the changing preferences and expectations of event attendees post-pandemic.
The research, unveiled at the IBTM event in Barcelona, delves into the factors influencing attendance at business events. It reveals a distinct shift in focus, with networking emerging as the primary driver for event participation. Over 60% of attendees cited networking as their top priority, emphasizing the need for organic, authentic, and unforced networking opportunities.
In addition to networking, the report highlights an increasing concern among delegates regarding the social and environmental impact of events. Attendees are now more conscious of doing business with a purpose, looking beyond mere transactional interactions to events that align with their values and intentions.
The study also points to the significance of venue location, travel connections, and city appeal in influencing attendance decisions. London, with its rich cultural heritage, robust connectivity, and status as a global business hub, stands out as the preferred destination for events.
The report suggests employing behavioral science techniques to accurately gauge attendees’ reactions and tailor event experiences accordingly. This approach can help in understanding the real-time mood and engagement levels of participants through technology and AI.
James Rees, Executive Director at ExCeL London, emphasized the need for the events industry to adapt to new delegate expectations and to understand what constitutes a successful event in the current context. He highlighted the importance of incorporating technology and maximizing networking opportunities in event curation.
Dena Lowery, President of the Opus Agency, suggested drawing inspiration from B2C models to enhance event experiences, including the use of augmented reality and AI. Jez Paxman, Strategy Director at Live Union, pointed out that attendee expectations around sustainability are driving events to be more eco-conscious.
The report concludes that the industry must adapt to significant global, economic, and social changes, understanding and catering to the purposeful motivations of attendees. Organizers, agencies, venues, and destinations must collaborate to meet these evolving demands, ensuring events are impactful and resonate with attendees’ intents.