Relationship management, awareness and new customers as the most important ways event organisers measure the catalytic impacts of business events, according to new research by the Events Industry Council (EIC).
The 2023 Global Economic Significance of Business Events study, in collaboration with Oxford Economics, measures the global economic significance of the US$1.6 trillion global business events industry.
For the first-time, EIC and Oxford Economics measured the critical role business events serve in areas like knowledge sharing, innovation and employee engagement.
The survey’s key findings include that relationship management, awareness and new customers are the most important methods for measuring impacts of business events beyond just dollar spend.
Two in three (67%) view building relationships through face-to-face interaction as most difficult to replace, while as much as 22% of new customers are generated through in-person events.
The reduction of business events due to Covid-19 led to significant loss of innovation, with 65% reporting a reduction in research and development prioritisation.
Organisers also believe an average of 44% of revenues would be lost without hosting in-person events.
“Business events is a US$1.6 trillion industry, with a GDP larger than many global economies,” said Amy Calvert, Events Industry Council CEO.
“The economic significance of the global business events industry is immense, and so are its broader impacts.
“Events are a catalyst for meaningful change. Across industry sectors, organisations and individuals all gain in ways that are fundamental to advancement, innovation and adaptation to a changing world.
“The way we understand, measure and communicate the importance of business events is vital to showcasing its overall value.”
In 2022, global business events recovered solidly at about 80% of pre-pandemic levels, with the Middle East, North America, and Central and Eastern Europe leading the recovery.
While Asia, Western Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean have generally experienced a slower pace of recovery, these regions are expected to experience some of the strongest growth of any of the global regions. Adjusted for inflation, global event spending is forecast to approach 2019 levels by 2025.
“The industry has made significant strides to recover losses. Two-thirds of global direct business event spending was lost in 2020,” said Adam Sacks, president of Tourism Economics, an Oxford Economics company.
“The three-year cumulative lost sales total US$1.9 trillion. When we embarked on this study, we knew getting a total picture of the global business events sector was critical for EIC’s advocacy efforts on behalf of its global membership.
“Now we have the data to show that the business events total GDP impact would rank as 13th largest global economy and recovery is well underway. The economic implications are massive.”
The study also illuminates how the value proposition of events is evolving. Event organisers can anticipate that building culture and engagement, supporting environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) objectives, advancing the business of the organisation and knowledge-sharing are higher priorities for event organisers in the future.
“Our comprehensive research and global events barometer forecasting model with Oxford Economics reveal the industry’s substantial value drivers. We know business events offer irreplaceable benefits like knowledge sharing, research collaboration and human capital development,” said Calvert.
“These findings not only help industry professionals make more informed and effective decisions, but also deepen our relevance and connection with global society.”