Business Events Through the Lens of the 2023 DestinationNEXT Future Study

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<span>Business Events Through the Lens of the 2023 DestinationNEXT Future Study </span>
Bottom Line:

With the release of our 2023 Futures Study, destination organizations can glimpse insights and trends toward the future of our sector. Experts from our team take a deep dive into those organizations that manage business events for their destinations.

By Andreas Weissenborn and Emily Scheiderer, Destinations International

Every two years, we release our flagship research report on its findings and viewpoints for the future of the sector. Many insights and trends come about from this study which can have multiple applications around our core businesses. From this year's study, over 85% of participants have the responsibility of selling business events for their community. This makes some of the insights from our business events organizations a critical section as they're applicable to the largest share of our membership. With this, we wanted to drill down on some of the major takeaways of this vertical in our destination organizations. 

1. Destination Development and Attractiveness:  

AW: To capture the attention of event organizers, we must emphasize destination development and attractiveness. Our first priority is to develop and support new events within the destination, providing a range of opportunities for clients to explore. Additionally, we can leverage our destination's priority economic sectors to generate business events that align with the organizer's goals and target audience. A crucial aspect of this approach is working closely within our destination to create a comprehensive master plan that defines a long-term strategy. This ensures our destination evolves in sync with the changing needs of the events industry, creating a dynamic environment that leaves a lasting impression on delegates. 

  • Develop and support new events in the destination.
  • Leverage the region's priority economic sectors for business events.
  • Create a destination master/management plan for long-term strategy. 

ES: The major shifts in attendee sentiments, decision factors, and decision timelines are leading to new definitions of destination appeal and directly impacting the selection process for business events. The concept of leveraging the local intellectual capital into the incoming business events has transitioned from “nice to have” into “necessary for future-proofing”. It’s no longer a perk, it’s an expectation. To position the organization for success, it’s imperative that the destination organization not only understand the overall destination development strategy but also have a strategic sales plan in place to support the growth of the corresponding markets that will make the case for the development of the destination’s infrastructure and workforce. 

  • Develop new KPIs to better measure the economic and social impact of the visitor economy beyond visitor volume
  • Develop strategic alliances across multiple economic sectors  to leverage resources
  • Pay close attention to safety, health, and security as a strategic consideration

2. Community Partnership and Sustainability:  

AW: The study recognizes the significance of the community and sustainability in hosting successful business events. By integrating tourism with community development, we offer event organizers the opportunity to create authentic experiences that resonate with their audiences. From that, our focus lies in developing the destination brand around the community's goals, values, and creative energy, fostering a sense of belonging for attendees. The study emphasizes sustainability and social impact, improving accessibility for all and promoting equity, diversity, and inclusion across the organization. By building partnerships with local community organizations and addressing social issues, we contribute positively to the destination's overall appeal.

  • Better integrate tourism and economic development.
  • Focus on developing authentic experiences for customers.
  • Build the destination brand around the community's goals, values, and creative energy. 

ES: Business Events bring with them the ability to create an impact on a destination. When the strategy behind securing those events aligns with the community's needs, the impact is unequivocally positive and further reaching. More than ever Event Organizers are being put in a position where they must balance a strategic approach to both business intelligence and emotional intelligence. With the need to sell the event in that destination to both boards and delegates, the event organizer has to navigate the financial aspects and the deeper community ties that bring with them opportunities for individual delegate impact. Selling the destination goes deeper than dates, rates, and space, and servicing incoming events is beyond brochures and tchotchkes. 

  •  Increase collaboration with local community organizations to address social issues
  • Improve accessibility for people of all abilities throughout the destination
  • Expand support for local arts and cultural organizations 

3. Stakeholder Engagement and Support:  

AW: Stakeholder engagement and support play a pivotal role in our strategic approach. Our destinations can actively work with airlines to build and promote air routes, ensuring seamless travel options for attendees. By collaborating with local community organizations, government bodies, and small businesses, we can create a collaborative and inclusive business event environment. Our continued focus on risk assessment and mitigation strategies demonstrates our commitment to providing a safe and successful event experience for all participants. With these trends, we will showcase the destination's dedication to supporting large events and fostering positive relationships with all stakeholders.

  • Increase capabilities in data management for business intelligence.
  • Work closely with airlines to build and promote air routes.
  • Collaborate with local community organizations, government, and small businesses.
  • Increase involvement in risk assessment and mitigation strategies for events. 

ES: Without defining the primary and secondary stakeholders for the destination organization and for the incoming business events, there will always be a limitation of success. Knowing who those stakeholders are and how they define success lays out, with clarity, the blueprint for not only the bidding of an event but also for the post-event follow-up that will organically migrate the event planner back into the sales cycle. For the destination organization sales and services departments, partners and planners are two primary stakeholder groups, and both are struggling with the implications of a lacking workforce. A necessary part of the sales strategy requires a two-pronged approach: building up the local workforce to support incoming events and securing incoming events that support the local workforce development.

  • Lead and support initiatives to address industry workforce shortages
  • Incentivize remote workers to attend business events and visit the destination for extended stays
  • Support development for businesses operated by members of underserved communities
  • Increase industry promotion to promote tourism as a career path and support workforce development 

4. Innovation and Technology Advancements:  

AW: In an increasingly digital world, innovation and technology are critical components of our approach. The study placed great emphasis on data management for business intelligence and employing cutting-edge technologies, including Generative AI technology like ChatGPT, to enhance marketing and sales efforts. Our destination should be considered the forefront of innovation, providing event organizers with insights and tools to enhance their event experience. We can showcase the destination's commitment to staying ahead of the curve, offering clients the opportunity to host events in an environment that embraces the latest technological advancements.

  • Increase the organization's knowledge of innovative technologies.
  • Develop a data-driven plan for a more sustainable visitor economy.
  • Use Generative AI technology like ChatGPT for marketing and sales.

ES: The advancement of technology breeds further innovation and the business events strategy within the destination organization is no exception. With technology advancements impacting everything from sourcing to post-event reporting, destination sales teams that embrace the progress and evolve with it will increase longevity and overall value to both the planner and the community. AI technology, when embraced, can impact how organizations are running reports, attracting the best remote talent, evaluating business, increasing marketing reach, and decreasing turnaround times in crisis management situations. Considering how the existing tools can support the sales team members in working smarter, not harder, will position the organization to maximize success even when budgets or manpower are limited. Consider how AI technology can support in:  

  • Developing a more comprehensive crisis management strategy
  • Focusing significant attention on content creation and dissemination
  • Increasing efforts to attract and retain sales talent 

Dive into the 2023 Futures Study to learn how your destination organization can understand these valuable insights toward the future of our sector and stay ahead of the curve.  

For more information, contact

Andreas Weissenborn

Vice President of Research and Advocacy
Destinations International

Introduced to the world of destination organizations by a random internship application to Visit Baltimore (then known as Baltimore Area Convention & Visitors Association), Andreas Weissenborn began an unexpected career into hospitality that left him with a continued passion towards the tourism industry.

Weissenborn spent just short of 11 years with Visit Baltimore helping with its Research, Technology, and Information Systems across the organization. In 2017, he joined the Association on behalf of a Destinations International Foundation initiative to be a dedicated research source for Destinations International.

As part of his responsibilities, include supporting our core advocacy and research initiatives such as the community shared value, the tourism lexicon, the event impact calculator, and various reporting platforms, and our belief of destination promotion being a common good for the greater good.

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About The Author

Emily Scheiderer

Senior Director of Education, Sales, and Services

Emily Scheiderer is a hospitality enthusiast with a background that includes both DMO and hotel experience. Emily’s passion for inclusivity has driven her to make meaningful connections both in and out of the industry that have included a two-year commitment to the ISAE Government Affairs committee and serving as an ambassador for the American Cancer Society’s ResearcHERS campaign. As a self-described “data nerd”, she enjoys any opportunity to expand her mind and learn. 

Read some of Emily's recent publications: 

Business Events Industry Focus Is Shifting Back to the Future

Business Event Profs Are Better Together

Smart Meetings Award Winners 2022

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