For better or worse, anecdotal evidence has been a precursor to trends in the events and hospitality industries throughout the pandemic. Finally a year later! the whispers before the numbers foretell some well-needed good news.

Vaccines are being distributed to millions every day; states are lifting mask restrictions and leaders are easing restrictions on indoor gatherings. The general feeling is one of optimism as more in-person events occur and many more are on the books for the second half of this year.

While intuition and instincts can betray us, numbers don't lie. The statistics, dissected and analyzed by, bear out that the events industry is on the brink of a recovery. Jeffery Emenecker, Senior Director of Analytics for Cvent recently discussed the findings with Associated Luxury Hotels International President & CEO Michael Dominguez. 

Spoiler alert: Things are looking up.

Among the highlights:

RFPs are being awarded at a faster clip than normal for events to be early next year;

Booking windows, especially among corporate groups, are returning to 180 days;

Event planners are eyeing Fall and Winter 2021 for a return to in-person (with a virtual component);

Hotels and other venues are not holding the line with rates for 2022 and beyond;

The shift toward lower cost venues remains consistent (for now).

"There's not so much uncertainty as there was before," explains Emenecker.

Telltale Signs

Much of the report contains good news reaffirming casual Zoom chatter that companies are ready to meet again, hotels are experiencing higher occupancy and that the industry is not all the way back.

Of particular note, CVENT is awaiting upscale luxury properties to once again overtake economy hotels. "When we finally see that flip for good, I think that will also be an indicator that corporate planners are back in the full force of things," Emenecker says.

It's widely expected corporate meetings, particularly those small in scale, will power the events industry's recovery. Look for a mix of strictly face-to-face, meetings in one venue with an online audience and gatherings in multiple locations with a universal online component to be integrated as event planners explore the different facets of omnichannel content delivery.

News and Notes

One challenge that event organizers will face is determining how many attendees will travel to an event versus join remotely. Beyond health concerns, organizations may have smaller budgets and ask representatives to use virtual platforms to save costs.

Pharmaceutical companies are the fasting moving groups within the corporate events section, Emenecker says.

Among the destinations experiencing high booking rates in 2021 and 2022 are:

  • The Caribbean
  • Indianapolis
  • Louisville
  • Las Vegas
  • Northern New Jersey
  • Orlando
  • Phoenix/Scottsdale
  • San Antonio
  • San Diego
  • St. Louis