With working from home now firmly established as the norm, many are wondering how this mega-trend has affected planners and events. Emerging qualitative research of corporate event planners has revealed three common trends when it comes to business events and rewards. The insights uncovered include how working from home has affected people’s appetite for events, how planners have changed their approach, and why events and rewards have become more important than ever in fostering community among a dispersed and remote workforce.
In this week’s blog feature, our team dives into the research and provides expert advice to help you leverage the information and strategize for the year ahead.
Incentivizing attendees is now crucial.
According to this emerging research, event planners may need to offer more incentives to encourage people to leave their homes and home offices, particularly as they encounter higher travel and accommodation costs.
As an example, The Land Registry has embraced subsidized travel and tickets at events. Paul Hayden, secretary of LR Leisure, the Land Registry's sports and social organizer, has found that the rise in remote working has led to a greater need to foster a sense of community. Hayden said, “To get people to move, we need to think about incentives at events. There was pent-up demand for in-person events post-Covid, but this only happened for a short time. As a solution, many of our offices have been hosting events within offices to get people back socializing and into the office, which importantly acts as a springboard for other events.”
Expert advice: Hayden later added, “Personalizing rewards is key, too.” And we couldn’t agree more. Personalizing the awards people will receive makes it more memorable and meaningful. Plus, it not only provides a tangible incentive for nominating others, which fosters a culture of appreciation, but also provides a tangible incentive for attending. That’s what we call a win-win for everyone.
Greater demand for gifting and recognition at events.
The rise in remote working and fragmented workforces has led to a greater demand for fun and celebratory rewards that recognize people with premium products, and unite teams.
Leanna Ellis, events director of FMC, organized The Dentistry Awards at Athena in November. She said: “The [urge] to recognize or have recognition, has increased. Fragmented workforces have driven this trend for some industries. Social media has also driven demand. Traditionally, the typical thing to do is to not boast about your achievements – social media has changed that – it is now ok to talk about your success. All industries now harness the power of social media as a free marketing tool to shout about your achievements, and this is boosting the power and demand for rewards and recognition at events.”
Expert advice: While we agree that appreciating people on social media can be a good thing, it’s important to remember that form of recognition won’t be effective for every person. While some people will like to have the proverbial spotlight shined on them, others may view this differently. Appreciating people with a gift of their choice ensures everyone receives a gift they’ll love and use, and it ensures that a person feels valued and recognized with a gift that appeals to them.
High drop-out rates renew the focus on strategy and quality.
Working from home has made people more selective about which events they attend. Event planners have also had to be more mindful of employees’ personal time and work-life balance, which has led to some events being organized within working hours.
Abi Reed, events manager of Gateley, said: “Dropouts on the day have increased since hybrid working has become much more widespread. Sometimes plans change, and people end up working from home, or have childcare issues, so last-minute dropouts have become a huge challenge for event planners. With this in mind, we have changed our strategy and given greater attention to what our target audience wants, why we are hosting the event, whom we want there, and what we want to achieve. This is to ensure we are creating events our target audience wants to leave their homes to attend.”
Expert advice: While this topic may require a larger work-life balance conversation, we believe companies can help ease burdens and prevent last-minute cancellations through gifting. Planners can use savvy tactics like On-site Gifting to entice people to attend. When planners send out the event’s invitation, they can add a line such as, “RSVP today and select a premium gift of your choice on-site during the event.” Including a preview of the gifting options or brands can also be the hook, line, and sinker that nudges them in the right direction. This kind of incentivizing encourages attendance and helps eliminate no-shows.
In 2022, The number of meetings climbed back to nearly 90% of prepandemic levels in September, based on the Meeting Recovery Forecast. Now, it’s predicted that overall meetings volume will surpass prepandemic levels in mid-2023, and a number will hit full recovery in May of next year.
Just last week, the IRF released an optimistic outlook for the new year ahead. Per-person budgets for On-site Gifting is expected to rise even further in 2023. The IRF’s latest study provides a positive forecasted view for non-cash incentives. With stubborn inflation, the majority see the value of non-cash incentives as being even greater. Given companies’ desire to attract and retain talent, and planners desire to drive in-person attendance, the demand for non-cash incentive programs will be valuable tools in the efforts to maximize human resource availability, output, and connectedness.
Connect with our team to learn more about how your company can leverage non-cash incentives, attract and retain top-talent, increase in-person engagement, and drive business forward. We’ll tell you how!