December 10, 2021
By Juliana Hahn

Much like the majority of 2020, 2021 brought massive changes, ups, and downs. Nevertheless, today's hospitality industry trends are somewhat different than twelve months ago. 

We saw neither the doomsday nor the complete recovery some pundits had predicted. Instead, our industry began adjusting to a new and different normal, making the most of the situation. This resulted in several new trends. Stay on top of them and you’ll have a better chance at getting your venue through these times successfully. 

Eleven hospitality industry trends to have on your radar if you want to get ahead in 2022

1. Transient business is making a cautious comeback

Over the past year, many companies kept remote work policies in place. They were also more selective when deciding which business trips are necessary and safe for their teams. This resulted in the transient segment not seeing the same bounce-back in 2021 as the leisure domain. However, the predictions that business travel and events were forever dead were proven wrong. 

While domestic business travel is recovering ahead of international travel, companies will continue emphasising cost savings and duty of care. They’re also keeping a wary eye on new variants. That’s one reason why virtual meetings will continue to replace a quarter of business travel in 2022. Personalised experiences to increase safety and comfort will also play a bigger role in decision making. Attract this early business by demonstrating your commitment to hygiene and safety and making value-packed offers.

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2. Ongoing uncertainty about hygiene and safety regulations will dampen live attendance

Frequent changes to travel restrictions, hygiene rules, and event safety guidelines will continue to cause uncertainty among planners and attendees. The emergence of new variants won’t help. 

In this situation, planners will want partners who stay current on local regulations and best practices for safe events. You must be able to show them how you’ll bring their vision to life while making safety a priority. Create clear policies for staff and guests and highlight your measures to build confidence among guests and boost live attendance.

3. Employee confidence and operational efficiency will be critical during regrowth

New safety measures will continue driving up costs for venues and planners. At the same time, the staffing crisis means that smaller teams must become more efficient and effective. Better training, technology, and automation of manual tasks are part of the solution. 

Cvent offers valuable tools for these areas:

  • Cvent Event Diagramming: This room diagramming software lets you show planners how their socially distanced event could look. It also offers the ability to change diagrams quickly and provide up-to-the-minute updates.
  • Cvent Supplier Network: Add your venue to the network to easily find and connect with planners who want what you offer.
  • Passkey: Simplify the MICE booking process, reduce time spent managing MICE reservations, and increase upsell opportunities. 

Help your team make the most of these tools and build their technology competencies via Cvent Certifications.

4. Relationships with planners will be more important than ever

Your existing partners are the most valuable ones. Stay close to them and show that you value their business. When looking to win over a new client, a proven track record will be more important than ever.

Leverage testimonials, be reliable and transparent to build trust and expand relationships with new planners. This will help you build a solid base throughout 2022. That’ll set you up for success and make you the go-to choice for planners in 2023 and beyond.

5. Digital immersion will be an integral part of in-person events

With the rise of hybrid and digital events, planners and attendees have come to expect some degree of digitalisation even at on-site events. Digital experiences will remain important at in-person functions and extend them into the digital realm to engage virtual audiences. 

Frank Passanante, senior vice president for Hilton’s worldwide sales in the Americas, was recently quoted on this topic in Travel Weekly: “What we’re seeing is less adoption of what we’d call ‘full-blown hybrid’ and instead seeing the incorporation of digital experiences into meetings in a way that’s not replacing the live audience, but extending the audience. Events are going to come back to the way they were in-person, but digital experiences are offering the ability to expand with a much further reach.”

As a venue operator, it’s crucial to stay current on these trends and help planners embrace new event styles and technology.

6. Virtual and hybrid events are here to stay but will evolve

Fully virtual and hybrid events are a relatively new concept that exploded throughout 2020. Yes, the rebound in live events shows that virtual gatherings won’t replace them. However, the virtual and hybrid concepts are here to stay thanks to their many benefits and advantages.

These new event types will develop and improve as planners, organisers, and venues gain experience and act on guest feedback. Keep an eye on emerging trends, update your offering, and train your staff, so you don’t lag behind. 

Equipment also plays a critical role in digital experiences. Here you have two options. Either you invest in your own set-up and learn to use it. Or, you build close relationships with suppliers to provide clients with the latest tech options.

7. Simplicity and clarity will be key as events become more complex

Planners are increasingly looking for three things:

  • A unique and personal in-person experience that’s safe and focused on networking. 
  • On-demand (virtual) content that drives engagement before, during, and after the event. 
  • A “one event, two experiences” design that highlights the location’s value and expands reach through virtual technology. 

Providing all this will make events more complex and expensive to organise. 

How to win in this scenario:

  • Prioritise simplicity: Make the planning process as simple and efficient as possible for your clients.
  • Find ways to control costs: Implement efficient workflows, train staff on best practices and build good vendor relations. 
  • Take the advisor’s role: Guide planners through the process and leverage your experience to make recommendations that will make their event a success.

8. Weddings and other leisure events will shift from seasonal to year-round

Many couples couldn’t celebrate their weddings as planned. Now there’s pent-up desire to make up for missed experiences. This has resulted in a few trends in the wedding and leisure events sector. 

With many people still hesitant about large gatherings, micro-weddings have become more popular. Some couples also add live streaming to include guests who couldn’t be there in person. 

Non-standard wedding formats such as the anniception are also gaining acceptance. Here, couples hold the wedding celebration without the ceremony, often a certain time after having gotten married. 

9. Wellbeing and memorable experiences will be more important to attendees

Over the past year, maintaining a work-life balance and wellbeing gained importance. Many people experienced work encroaching on their private lives much more while working from home. As a result, they have a stronger desire to create a clean cut, protect their time and take care of themselves. 

This trend will change how organisers plan events. There will be a stronger focus on adding fun, social, and experiential elements especially to business conferences. The goal is to make them more attractive, engaging, and feel less like work. 

As a venue or hotel, it’s your job to guide planners. You’re the expert, so help your clients make their event a locally inspired experience. That could include suggesting cultural immersion activities, team outings, or engagement with local communities.

10. Sustainability and CSR will be on everyone’s mind

Sustainability and corporate social responsibility (CSR) will re-emerge as priorities for planners because climate change is more on people’s minds than ever. According to the ICE Annual Benchmarking Report,77% of respondents said sustainability had become their key challenge. 

Planners and guests are demanding commitments and visible efforts that venues are reducing their carbon footprint. If you can prove that you’re doing your part, you’re not only helping the planet. You’re also opening the doors to potential new business. 

Big players have understood this and are making bold, media-worthy moves in a greener direction. Take Radisson Hotel Group for example. They made all MICE activities worldwide carbon neutral in 2019. For early 2022, they’re even offering carbon negative meetings across their hotels in Europe. 

The 2021 Guide to Sustainable Meetings for Hotels

11. Collective empowerment will help the industry succeed as a whole

The claims that the pandemic would be the end of the events industry were debunked. That doesn’t mean the past year didn’t bring ongoing challenges though. 

On a positive note, the difficulties of the past year have fostered a sense of community. There’s a sense that we’re all in this together. And we’ve understood that collaboration and mutual support are the only way to get through it. As such, education, give-back programs, and knowledge sharing programs are trending. 

Hoteliers are sharing their experiences to help others adapt to new trends, technology updates, and changing requirements. Especially during such dynamic and uncertain times, this helps the industry recover and move forward as a whole. It also allows hoteliers and venues that embrace these resources and changes to stay competitive and get through this challenge.

And that’s a wrap on our hospitality industry trends for 2022. 

Which ones have you already spotted and adapted to? Which ones surprised you and got you thinking of new steps to take? While we’re listing them here as hospitality industry trends for the next year, many will stay relevant far beyond 2022. That makes it all the more important to adapt and keep current: the only way to offer partners the best possible MICE experience and keep them coming back for more. 

Get on the path to hitting your 2022 goals

Headshot of Juliana Hahn

Juliana Hahn

Juliana Hahn is a content creator and copywriter specialised in the hospitality and tourism industry. Before diving into the world of copywriting, she studied hotel management and worked in hotels around the globe. Today she leverages her industry experience to craft engaging content for hospitality tech companies, hotels and online publications. She also offers tutorials and resources on copywriting to help hotels boost direct bookings.

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