February 2nd, 2021

Global DMC Partners Releases Results and Key Findings of Q4 Meetings & Events Survey

Highlights include that over half of planners predict in-person meetings and events will resume in the second half of 2021, and that over 90 percent believe the COVID-19 vaccine is the most important factor to resuming face-to-face events

Global DMC Partners (GDP), the premier, one-stop global resource for virtual, hybrid and in-person events , today shared the results of its Q4 Meetings & Events Pulse Survey. Conducted from December 3-29, 2020, the survey polled 242 respondents from the meetings and events industry. Of these, 93 percent were planners versus vendors or suppliers. The survey had respondents from nearly every part of the globe, with the majority from the United States (57 percent), and the United Kingdom (28 percent). Participants were primarily third-party/independent planners (53.3 percent), as well as association planners (8.3 percent) and those in pharma, technology, and insurance.

Global DMC Partners President & CEO, Catherine Chaulet, shared key insights and data from GDP’s Q4 Meetings & Events Pulse Survey during the company’s virtual 2021 Trends & Panel Discussion that took place on Wednesday, January 27 to an audience of nearly 350 attendees.

Key insights from the responses included:

  • A clear shift towards hope for face-to-face meetings to resume in the latter part of 2021 with most planners (53 percent) now predicting that their in-person meetings and events will resume sometime in Q3 & Q4 2021.
  • General health and well-being of planners and their family and friends is the top concern now, as opposed to fear/uncertainty, travel & government restrictions, and job security in Q3 2020.
  • 92 percent believe a vaccine is the most important factor in bringing back face-to-face events, an increase of 10 percent from Q3 2020.

Biggest COVID-19 Crisis Concern

There was a notable change in the responses to this question between Q3 and Q4. As compared to Q3 responses, general fear and uncertainty decreased by 8 points while health and well-being of myself/family/friends increased by 7 points in Q4 responses.

“We know that the pandemic is still going to play a big role in the way our industry operates throughout 2021 and even beyond,” said Global DMC Partners President & CEO Catherine Chaulet. “ “According to a live audience poll that we conducted during our virtual 2021 Trends & Panel Session, 53 percent of the audience members are hoping for a more balanced pace of post-pandemic work/life as compared to 47 percent who miss their ‘old life’ and wish for work/life to go back to the way it was before the pandemic. Based on this sentiment being almost half and half, it will be interesting to see if our industry quickly goes back to a fast-paced, nonstop travel lifestyle or how things may become more balanced moving forward.”

Employee Travel

More US companies are allowing their employees to travel than non-US companies (35 vs. 28 percent) and this has increased as compared to Q3 responses. Non-USA companies became slightly more conservative regarding allowing their employees to travel, with 44 percent responding that travel is not allowed, compared to 40 percent in Q3. The timeline for travel continues to pushback with most planners (59 percent) reporting that they predict their companies will allow travel starting in Q2 or Q3 2021.

Return of Face-to-Face Meetings

When asked about when companies and clients will start to host face-to-face live events, meetings, or incentives again, the industry was hopeful in Q3 of 2020 for face-to-face programs to resume in Q1/Q2 2021, but there is a clear shift towards the latter part of 2021 with most planners (53%) now predicting that their in-person meetings and events will resume sometime in Q3 & Q4 2021.

While many are still unsure about their target attendee numbers, 46 percent report that they would expect less than 250 attendees at their largest in-person event in 2021. The majority (57 percent) are predicting average 2021 attendee numbers to decrease, with many respondents noting that attendees may not feel comfortable traveling or attending an event, along with the potential that programs will incorporate a hybrid/virtual component.

2021 Budgets

When asked about budgets for meetings, conferences, incentives and events, most respondents noted they were either decreasing or staying the same in 2021.

Virtual Events in 2020 vs. 2021

The vast majority (78 percent) of planners pivoted to virtual events in 2020, with the necessary trend increasing as the year progressed. The majority (54 percent) are also shifting their in-person events to virtual in 2021. In Q2 2020, only 13 percent reported they were taking their programs virtual in 2021, and in Q3, 30 percent reported they were taking their programs virtual in 2021. Once more, the pivot to virtual not only increased throughout 2020, but is becoming more of a long-term solution as the pandemic wears on.

That being said, according to a live audience poll during Global DMC Partners’ virtual 2021 Trends & Panel Discussion, 63 percent of audience members reported that audience engagement was their top concern surrounding virtual events, followed by budget, and a sense of dissatisfaction with managing virtual events due to virtual not being their area of expertise nor their area of interest.

Incentives 2020 vs. 2021

With the overall sentiment that incentive trips are largely irreplaceable, many are still just postponed, however, as 2020 went on gifts and cash became increasingly popular as replacements for the incentive trip. 67 percent of respondents did report that incentive trips are still taking place in 2021 or 2022.

“We’ve heard loud and clear from planners that they are eager to travel and get back to in-person events in 2021, but there are still many challenges to overcome. However, DMCs, hotels and other event suppliers are ready to support planners with their face-to-face events by helping them implement health and sanitation procedures that will ensure every attendee stays safe and healthy at the event ,” said Chaulet. “For example, recently we are hearing more often that planners are looking into having COVID testing for attendees onsite at events. With their local connections and access, DMCs and hotels are going to be the best resources to help make this possible.”

For example, we are now hearing more and more that planners are looking into having COVID testing for attendees onsite at events, and with their local connections and access, DMCs and hotels are going to be the best resources to help make this possible for planners.

For the full results of GDP’s Q4 Meetings & Events Pulse Survey, please visit:

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